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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

They Serve, Protect, and Humiliate You

CHICAGO (CN) - Chicago police strip-searched three people on the street, and forced the woman to discard her bloody tampon while five male officers watched and made jokes about her body, the motorists claim in court.

Caprice Halley, Tevin Ford, and Willie Douglas (on behalf of Robert Douglas' estate) sued the City of Chicago and its Officers Wherfel, E. Doughtery, A. Granat, D. Balesteri, B. Rodekohr, J. Reckard, R. Federici, and T. Conlon in Federal Court.

In May 2013, Halley and Ford were passengers in Douglas' car, when they were confronted by police in an unmarked car driving toward them the wrong way down a one-way street, according to the lawsuit.

"Two of the defendants removed Mr. Douglas and Mr. Ford from their vehicle, handcuffed them and subjected them to a series of searches.

"During one of these searches, and while standing in the middle of the public street, one of the defendants pulled up Mr. Douglas's shirt, pulled his elastic waistband away from his body, and searched down the front of his pants," the complaint states.

After doing the same to Ford, the officers "forced Mr. Douglas to walk backwards while handcuffed off the street and across a yard to the side of a home."

"Once at the side of the house, the defendants forced Mr. Douglas to reach up to one of the windows on the side of the house that was covered by burglar bars. They shackled one of his wrists to one of the window bars, pulled his pants down to his ankles, bent him over, and searched his buttocks in the open air," the plaintiffs say.

When police realized a neighbor was watching them, the officers put the plaintiffs into the two cars and drove to a nearby alley.

"Once there, defendant Wherfel arrived at the scene and ordered Ms. Halley out of Mr. Douglas' car. While Ms. Halley was surrounded by five male officers/defendants, defendant Wherfel ordered Ms. Halley to remove her pants. Ms. Halley pleaded with defendant Wherfel and explained that she was menstruating and was using a tampon.

"Ms. Halley asked defendant Wherfel if she was 'really going to make [her] strip in front of these men,' and defendant Wherfel, while putting on blue latex gloves, coldly replied with a 'yes.'

"Defendant Wherfel uncuffed one of Ms. Halley's hands and ordered her to remove the tampon. Shocked, humiliated and surrounded by male police officers, Ms. Halley tearfully removed the tampon and discarded it on the alley pavement pursuant to Wherfel's orders.

"Wherfel then began to use her fingers to probe Ms. Halley's vagina while the five male defendant officers looked on and made jokes and comments about Ms. Halley's body.

"Nothing illegal was recovered from Ms. Halley," the complaint states.

Halley claims that Officer Wherfel took a small bag of heroin from her own sock and falsely claimed she had found it in Halley's waistband.

"The criminal case against Ms. Halley is expected to be disposed in a manner indicative of innocence," the complaint states.

Plaintiffs seek punitive damages for unlawful search and seizure, false arrest, conspiracy to violate civil rights, failure to intervene, emotional distress and battery.

They are represented by Jon Erickson with Erickson & Oppenheimer.

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