A woman in Illinois was arrested in May for driving while drunk, but she's now suing the county after what happened to her when she was taken into the station to sober up.
Video footage shows 33-year-old Dana Holmes standing hands up against the wall in the LaSalle County jail as she was patted down by a female deputy. Without audio it's unclear what occurred to provoke what happened next, but the two male cops flanking Holmes grabbed her arms and put her face down on the ground. Another male officer joined them and the four authorities carried her into a cell.
Dana Holmes is suing the county for her treatment when she was taken to jail under DUI charges in May. (Image via Chicago Tribune video screenshot)
Something provoked the officers to put Holmes on the ground and carry her into a cell where they stripped her naked. (Image via Chicago Tribune video screenshot)
The video, edited by the Chicago Tribune to shorten it and remove nudity, next shows Holmes naked but in blankets alone in a completely empty cell.
Holmes was only given some blankets to cover herself while she sobered up. (Image via YouTube video screenshot)
More than an hour later, still inebriated since she was three times over the legal limit, an officer opens the door, wakes Holmes and leads her to be fingerprinted and have her mugshot taken. All the while, Holmes is still wearing only a blanket.
"There was no excuse or anything to give them a reason to put their hands on me," Holmes told the Tribune after filing a lawsuit against the county this week. "I was just scared. I didn't want them to have any reason to come back inside."
"I just felt helpless and degraded. … I was actually afraid they might come in and try to rape me. I wasn't sure. I just had all kinds of things going on in my head," she said in an interview with the Tribune.
To WLS-TV, Homes said she felt "terrified" and "helpless."
"I was scared and I lay there crying . . . I just prayed," she told the local news station.
Watch the video, which includes dashcam footage of Holmes' arrest on the street and her experience in the jail, courtesy of the Tribune:
Holmes' lawyer, Terry Ekl, told the Tribune the officers conduct was a "violation of her civil rights" and "a crime."
LaSalle County Sheriff Thomas Templeton said he did not know about the video or the incident until he was questioned by the Tribune about it. Officers though filed an incident report, which said Holmes was uncooperative and, as a result, was told she would be placed in a padded cell "until she sobers up and was willing to cooperate and not fight with deputies."
The blankets Holmes wrapped herself in, according to the Tribune, was described by the authorities as a "padded suit."
Here's more from the newspaper regarding the legality of stripping Holmes naked:
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.
The officer's report said Holmes was "being mouthy and causing problems." Ekl told the Tribune officers got riled up when Holmes removed her belly button ring herself, something she did after the officers said they would need to do so with pliers.
The Tribune also noted the officer's report saying Holmes tried to kick them during the pat down. Homles told the newspaper she might have lost her balance but she did not kick.
Sheriff Templeton told the Tribune he would not comment further given the lawsuit.
As for Homles' DUI charge, she pleaded guilty in July and was placed on probation. Owning up to her mistake, she said it "still doesn't give them a reason to do what they did."
"My dignity is worth more than that, and other people's too," she continued.
Holmes told WLS she hopes the officers involved lose their jobs over their conduct.
WLS reported Ekl and the LaSalle County State's Attorney's office are meeting about the pending criminal charges.
(H/T: Daily Mail)