Texas troopers under fire for yet another roadside strip-search
Reuters / Andy Newman
Two Houston women have filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Public Safety claiming they were subjected to a humiliating roadside body cavity search that left them violated and traumatized.
“I was embarrassed, in a bikini, on the side of the freeway. And it hurts so bad to even go through something like that,” 27-year-old Brandy Hamilton told KTRK News.
Hamilton and 26-year-old Alexandria Randle were driving home to Houston after spending last year’s Memorial Day at a nearby beach with family and friends when Texas Trooper Nathaniel Turner pulled them over for speeding on the side of Highway 288 and ordered them to exit their vehicle. The women were still wearing their bathing suits and were not permitted to put clothes on or cover up before exiting the car.
The trooper claimed to smell marijuana in the car and called a female trooper to search the women’s body parts for drugs, despite numerous pleas from the ladies.
“The male officer, his words verbatim were, ‘We’re gonna get familiar with your womanly parts,” Hamilton told KXAN.
“You’re going to go up my private parts?” a surprised Hamilton asked trooper Jennie Bui, who responded with “Yes, ma’am.”
The trooper’s dash camera recorded the roadside cavity search and depicts Hamilton’s alarmed expression as the female trooper touched her ‘private parts’ and inserted a finger into her genitalia. The trooper used the same pair of gloves to search the genital regions of both women. Randle can be heard crying uncontrollably as she is probed.
“She just came right over and there was no switch out of anything, which is disgusting,” Randle told KTRK, noting that she considers this a case of molestation.
“Do you know how violated I feel?” Hamilton told the female officer during the 40-minute traffic stop. No drugs were found, but the women were given a ticket for possession of drug paraphernalia. Turner claims he found a piece of a smoked blunt in the car.
“Don’t smoke weed in your car and you won’t have to go through this,” Turner told the women at one point during the search.
The women claim to be traumatized by the incident, especially since it took place in broad daylight, on the side of a highway, in full view of three sheriff’s deputies.
The Texas Department of Public Safety suspended Turner on June 10 and terminated Bui on June 29.
But the incident is not an isolated case: two other Texas state troopers were recently indicted on charges of sexual assault and oppression for a roadside cavity search conducted last year. Angel Dobbs, 38, and her niece Ashley Dobbs, 24, were subjected to a similar genital search in which the trooper used the same pair of gloves on both women. The case was settled for $185,000 in late June.
And Texas Attorney Allie R. Booker told the Daily Mail that there is a third such case that has not yet become public, but closely resembles the other two.
“How are these people behaving in the same manner, hundreds of miles away from each other?” she said. “There’s got to be some factor at the DPS that makes these officers think they can do this.”