A Chicago-area woman is now suing county police for what she claims was an illegal and humiliating strip search by four officers that was caught on tape. The search took place after the woman was arrested for dunk driving with three times the legal blood alcohol limit.
After Dana Holmes was pulled over last May and taken to the county jail for driving while intoxicated, surveillance footage shows her being forced to the floor by one female and three male officers. She says she was then stripped naked and left alone on the floor of a cell for several minutes before being tossed a ‘padded suit.’
Whoa. I have to admit that my first fleeting thought was: I bet that’s the last time she drives drunk! But wow, this alleged behavior is so not ok. It’s called due process for a reason, and it doesn’t seem like that was practiced in this case.
Video of her arrest shows her cooperating with the police (unless you count her apparent inability to walk in a straight line as defiance), and no note of her “resisting behavior” was made. However, LaSalle County police say that the arresting officers informed them that she was “being mouthy and causing problems.”
The footage then jumps to her being pat down against a wall by a female cop, as three of her male counterparts watch nearby. At one point, it looks as though she loses her balance as the officer is either trying to spread her legs farther or lift her leg. Her leg comes up a bit as her arms startle against the wall, and then all of a sudden she’s pinned to the floor by the cops and carried off. The next shot is of her naked in a cell, mostly covered by what appear to be blankets.
Ok, so the footage is grainy, but even if her leg lifting up (at the 4:20 mark) was actually a “kick” as the police are describing it, it’s a pretty lame kick made by a drunk, exhausted, and probably embarrassed girl. It doesn’t appear to be anything worth meriting being thrown to the ground, carried out, and strip-searched.
Not only that, but strip searches have procedures. They’re only supposed to be done by an officer of the same sex, and never in the presence of someone not participating in the search. Holmes said she was then put naked into a cell, where she cried for at least two minutes before being tossed a cover-up from a male officer.
“I was terrified. I felt helpless. I was scared and I lay there crying ... I just prayed,” Holmes said. She is suing the LaSalle County sheriff’s department and the four deputies for “violating her civil rights after her May 18 arrest and for inflicting emotional harm by stripping her without legal justification.”
She hopes they lose their jobs.
Did you think the officers’ alleged treatment of Holmes was justified?
Image via mediaproductclips/YouTube