National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Dana Holmes Files Lawsuit for Illegal Strip Search

Police arrested Dana Holmes on a DUI charge.

The controversy concerns what they did to her later at the police station.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Dana Holmes was drunk, naked and being recorded on video.

The 33-year-old was facedown on the floor of a LaSalle County jail cell while cameras captured images of her nude body on the facility’s video system. Minutes earlier, four deputies — three men and a woman — had pulled her to the ground and carried her into the cell, where they quickly and forcibly stripped Holmes and walked out with her clothes.

“There was no excuse or anything to give them a reason to put their hands on me,” said Holmes, who filed a federal lawsuit against LaSalle County authorities Monday. “I was just scared. I didn’t want them to have any reason to come back inside.”

Holmes, whose blood-alcohol level registered nearly three times the legal limit when she was arrested for drunken driving earlier in the night, said she lay on the floor crying. After a few minutes, the cell door opened, and a deputy tossed in a pile of blankets and what authorities describe as a “padded suit.”

More than an hour later, when deputies fingerprinted and photographed Holmes, she was covered only in one of the blankets wrapped around her body, the jail video showed. It was provided to the Tribune by Holmes’ attorneys. The images show several male officers entering the room as a still-inebriated Holmes struggles to keep the blanket around her shoulders while being fingerprinted.

Holmes, who lives in Coal City and works at a local convenience store, alleges the LaSalle County sheriff’s department and four deputies violated her civil rights after her May arrest and caused her emotional harm by stripping her naked without legal justification for such a search.

Her lawyer, Terry Ekl, said he planned to seek a meeting with the LaSalle County state’s attorney to contend the officers committed official misconduct by deliberately strip-searching Holmes without justification.

“It’s not only a violation of her civil rights. It’s also a crime,” said Ekl, who provided the Tribune with copies of the video as well as written reports filed by sheriff’s officers and Marseilles police. The lawyer said the video and documents were produced by authorities in court as part of her DUI case….

Sheriff’s officers did not note any justification for removing her clothes, nor did they note any suspicion that she was hiding a weapon or drugs. She had already been searched by Marseilles police officers who arrested her, according to their report. She also was monitored by a female Marseilles officer while she used the bathroom at the police station there.

Under Illinois law, a strip-search is permitted only when officers have a “reasonable belief” that the subject is hiding a weapon or a controlled substance on their body. The law also requires that the strip-search be done by an officer of the same sex as the subject and cannot be observed by people not conducting the search.

An expert on criminal procedure said it was hard to see what legal justification sheriff’s officers may have believed they had for a strip-search, regardless of Holmes’ demeanor.

“Nothing in the statute says resisting arrest is justification for a strip-search,” said Len Cavise, who teaches criminal law at the DePaul University College of Law.

How Many DUIs Will It Take?

From Jacksonville.com:

A 40-year-old Jacksonville police officer with a history of DUIs since her 2004 hire was charged Tuesday with five counts of driving under the influence causing damage as well as multiple hit-and-runs, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Diana Laura Jones, who was off duty, also was cited with reckless driving after officers found her in her truck eating a hamburger after three cars were hit in an Atlantic Boulevard parking lot and another on Hodges Boulevard, according to her arrest report.

Undersheriff Dwain Senterfitt said he had fired Jones after a DUI investigation in 2011, but an arbitrator reinstated her. Senterfitt said he is frustrated she was rehired and is now under investigation a third time

 

Trooper of the Year

From the New York Times:

Ms. Steed pulled over Julie Tapia for speeding as she was driving home. Ms. Tapia was giving a ride to her ex-husband, who had been drinking, but Ms. Tapia herself does not drink, the suit said.

Ms. Steed claimed Ms. Tapia failed a field sobriety test and arrested her. But blood tests showed no presence of impairing drugs or alcohol in her system, according to the suit. The charges were ultimately dismissed.

Michael Studebaker, another lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said that he believes there are at least hundreds of additional tainted arrests involving Ms. Steed. “The 40 or so individuals that have contacted us have to be the tip of the iceberg because Steed arrested many other people,” he said. “Her actions are so blatant, that it is probable that she acted like this in an untold number of cases.”

Wake up, put uniform on, smear some innocent people with false charges, then call it a day.   She was thriving — Trooper of the Year!  Promotions seemed “inevitable.”   If the evidence turns out to be as damning as it seems, her exposure is so much more than a “bad apple.”  It exposes  a dangerously dysfunctional system.

 

Grandmother Struck and Killed by Drunk Driving NY Officer

From the Village Voice:

A former NYPD detective — whose BAC was more than three times the legal limit when he plowed into a Bronx grandmother with a cop car — was convicted of manslaughter yesterday.

Former Detective Kevin Spellman, however, beat the rap on the most serious charges against him (aggravated vehicular homicide and first-degree vehicular manslaughter) in the death of 66-year-old Drane Nikac, who was struck by the tipsy former detective on October 30, 2009, as she was walking near the intersection of West 232nd St. and Kingsbridge Avenue in the Bronx.

Following the accident, Spellman refused a breathalyzer test, and his BAC wasn’t tested until five hours after he slammed into the Bronx grandmother while driving erratically in his NYPD-owned Chevy Impala.

The article says that Spellman retired.  If there is a pension, how about we cancel that, or divert it to the Nikac estate?

State Trooper Kills Woman in DUI Crash

Prosecutors have charged a Pennsylvania State Trooper with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol.

Searfoss was coming from an annual charity golf outing at Five Ponds Golf Course in Warminster, which began around 11:30 a.m., the affidavit says. The “Bump and Run Golf Event” was a fundraiser for youth scholarships in honor of Phoebe Blessington, who was killed by a drunk driver in 1997.

The off-duty officer was traveling about 70 mph when his vehicle slammed into the car of 21-year-old Robin Taneisha Williams.  A witness said a fire engulfed Williams’s car, killing her.

DUI Arrest for Off-Duty Cop Clocked at 128 MPH

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

A DeKalb police officer clocked Jarvis Farley at 128 mph in a 55 mph zone on I-285, near Lavista Road, just before 3 a.m. May 25, police said. The officer pursued Farley, who was driving southbound in a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro, until he exited onto Ga. 78 and pulled over.

The officer approached the car, and Farley immediately showed his police identification and apologized for speeding. The officer noted on the report that Farley’s eyes were “very bloodshot and glassy, and he had a strong unknown type alcohol on his breath with his speech being mumbled.”

When told how fast he was driving, Farley replied, “Oh, for real?” according to the report.

Farley told the officer he consumed a “few” beers that night and had been drinking throughout the day.

When the officer asked him to perform a walking test, Farley stumbled and failed to maintain a straight line, police said. The officer administered a field alcohol breath test, which indicated a positive result for alcohol.

Farley was then placed under arrest. As the officer searched him, he found an unopened miniature bottle of Tequila in the motorist’s left cargo shorts pocket. Farley was taken to jail and submitted an official alcohol breath test, which showed a .142 blood alcohol content.

Farley was charged with DUI, speeding and reckless driving, according to the report. A spokesman for the Atlanta Police Department said he has been placed on administrative duty pending an investigation.

Full story here.