Women sue Texas after roadside probing

Two Texas women have filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging Texas State Troopers performed roadside body cavity searches that left them feeling violated. The search, which is unconstitutional in Texas and several other states, were performed during a routine traffic stop on the side of the highway.

The New York Daily News offers more details:

The first video was graphic enough. Two women, as shown in a Texas state trooper’s dash cam recording, are probed in their vaginas and rectums by a glove-wearing female officer after a routine traffic stop near Dallas.

A few days later, a second video surfaced. It was an eerily similar scenario, but this time the traffic stop was just outside Houston, and with different troopers. Two women, pulled over for allegedly speeding, are subjected to body cavity searches by a female officer summoned to the scene by a male trooper.

Unlike the earlier tape, this one had clear audio. Yells can be heard as the female trooper shoves her gloved finger inside one woman.

In both invasive incidents, the female troopers don’t change gloves between probes, according to the horrified victims.

Although the searches are illegal in Texas, some allege the practice is common throughout the state. The emergence of videos of two separate incidents conducted within weeks of each other only fueled these claims.

“The fact that they both happened means there is some sort of (department) policy” advocating their use at traffic stops, Jim Harrington of the Texas Civil Rights Project told the Daily News. “It’s such a prohibited practice. I don’t know why they think they can do this. It’s mind-boggling.”

Ashley and Angel Dobbs settled their case against the Texas Department of Public Safety after they were stopped, but the latest lawsuit filed by Alexandra Randle and Brandy Hamilton, two women stopped as they were returning from a trip to the beach, is still pending.

The Daily News gives an account of Randle and Hamilton’s stop:

Brandy Hamilton and Alexandria Randle were pulled over for speeding in Brazoria County by Texas state trooper Nathaniel Turner on Memorial Day in 2012. They were on their way home to Houston after spending the day at Surfside Beach on the Gulf of Mexico.

Turner said he smelled marijuana, then ordered Hamilton, the driver, out of the car. “Can I please put on my dress, because I have on a swimsuit,” she asks the trooper, according to the dash cam video.

“Don’t worry about that,” he says, “come on out here.”

By the side of Highway 288, Hamilton, wearing a bikini, and Randle, in shorts, are asked a series of questions about whether they have drugs on them or in the car. They say no, just some cigars.

“Is there anything in your bra or underwear?” Turner asks Hamilton. She says no.

Turner calls for a female officer to come and search the women.

Trooper Jennie Bui arrives, and asks for gloves because she doesn’t have any.

“She is about to get up close and personal with some womanly parts,” Turner tells Hamilton. “She is going to search you, I ain’t, because I ain’t about to get up close and personal with your woman areas.”

Hamilton, who is handcuffed, is bent over the patrol car’s passenger seat and probed by Bui.

“Do you know how violated I feel?” Hamilton pleads.

The women are seeking unspecified damages in federal court, but hope their ordeal will not only lead to more women coming forward, but will also put an end to this heinous practice.

Read more about the incidents here.

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