DENVER (CN) – A jail worker in Lakewood, Co., did not have a reasonable justification to strip search a mother of nine who was mistakenly arrest for domestic violence, the 10th Circuit ruled.
The court denied qualified immunity to D.L. Mandelko, an employee at the Jefferson County Jail, for strip searching a woman whose name, but not appearance, fit the alias on an arrest warrant for domestic violence.
The 46-year-old plaintiff was arrested on the warrant during a traffic stop and taken to the county jail, where she was frisked three times before Mandelko searched her.
The jailer expressed her apparent doubts by asking the plaintiff, “Where are your moles and tattoos?” and telling a receptionist, “This isn’t her.”
The plaintiff said the search was humiliating. As she stood naked, she began to lactate and tried to cover herself, but Mandelko made her lower her arms and told a male jailer to cut a maxi pad in half to absorb the leakage.
Because Mandelko had no reason to believe that the plaintiff was armed and dangerous, the court ruled, the defendant could be held liable for violating the plaintiff’s constitutional rights.