UPDATE: As reported by NBC 5, Angel Dobbs, 38, and her niece Ashley Dobbs, 24, have settled a lawsuit over the incident. Their attorney, Charles Soechting, told NBC 5 Wednesday that his clients have settled for $185,000.
What amazes me about this story, is not only is this an illegal, sexually-violating police search, but that it happened on a public road, for anyone driving by to see. These two women were pulled over, for allegedly tossing a cigarette butt out the window – and given full body internal searches.
Angel Dobbs, 38, and her 24-year-old niece, Ashley Dobbs, were stopped along Highway 161 in Texas in July.
According to the dash cam video, Trooper Ferrell introduces himself and explainst the reason for the stop: “My name is Trooper Ferrell. I work for the highway patrol. Reason for contact is I watched both of you throw cigarettes out.”
Ferrell then went on to accuse the two of smoking marijuana: “How much marijuana is in that car? And don’t lie to me,” he asked using their denial as his excuse for the search.
Gloves were not changed between back to front probes, which could lead to infection. And shockingly, gloves were not changed between women.
Under Texas law, this is considered sexual assaults/rape.
Texas Penal Code Sec. 22.011. SEXUAL ASSAULT. (a) A person commits an offense if the person: (1) intentionally or knowingly: (A) causes the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of another person by any means, without that person’s consent;
And after all of that - no ticket was issued. The incident happened last December and the women are now filing suit.
“We believe that he pretextually made it up, fabricated it. There was no marijuana smell,” said Scott Palmer, their attorney.
“I was molested. I was violated. I was humiliated in front of other traffic. I had to witness my niece go through the same thing,” Angel Dobbs said.
“This has been an eye-opening experience for me, okay? Never been pulled over, never searched like this. It’s… I mean, I was like totally violated over there a few minutes ago. I had a finger in my *** and a finger in my ****, and this is so embarrassing to me,” she said on the dash cam video.
“It’s because someone’s a daily smoker in that car, okay. And you can attribute it to that,” the trooper replied.
This is not the first time a search like this has taken place, reported, or become news. Here is the video of another incident where two women are searched and internally probed on the side of the road. One woman yells in pain as the female trooper shoved her hand inside the woman. In this ‘search’ the troopers did not bother to check the women’s socks/shoes.
In both videos, you will hear women laughing a bit during the probes. I assure you they do not find this funny – those are nervous reactions to the humiliation and shock they are experiencing. I admire them for coming forward with their stories.
It’s hard to wrap my brain around what is happening in Texas, and specifically to women.This is not to say such things do not happen around the country, they do. But Texas is being especially exposed, and with more women coming forward to report violations, there is a chance for change. I am grateful to people courageous enough to stand up to the law when wronged, as well as to social media for circulating these videos causing some to go viral. Public outrage and protests help to create new laws.
Here is a local news report on the incident from KTVT, broadcast Dec. 18, 2012:
|Leslie Salzillo is an activist, political commentator and visual artist. She began contributing to Liberals Unite in June of 2013.|