Videos show Texan police searching women's genitals for drugs
Issued on: Modified:
Two separate videos filmed on police dashboard cameras show how some Texan police officers have taken to performing intimate roadside body searches on women accused of minor offences. Our Observers, who were themselves subjected to a so-called ‘cavity search’, say they felt violated and disgusted.
Two separate videos filmed on police dashboard cameras appear to show Texan police officers performing intimate roadside body searches on women accused of minor offences. Our Observers, who were themselves subjected to a so-called "cavity search", say they felt violated and disgusted.
A trip to the beach in Brazoria County in May last year took a nasty turn for two young Texan women when police pulled over their car, accused the driver of speeding and carrying marijuana, and then subjected them both to on-the-spot intimate cavity searches. A female police officer penetrated Brandy Hamilton and Alexandria Randle’s vaginas and rectums. She found nothing, Hamilton denies speeding, and the women claim the officer used the same gloves.
Hamilton and Randles are suing the officers involved, Brazoria County Sheriff and the state Director of Public Safety. As the case unfolds, a video shot during the incident by a police dashboard camera has recently emerged. It shows a senior officer telling Brandy Hamilton “I ain’t getting up close and personal with your womanly parts”. He calls over his junior female colleague, while Hamilton looks shocked and asks: “you’re really going up my private parts?” Hamilton is clearly in pain while the female officer performs the cavity search. Hamilton’s passenger, Alexandria Randles, is not visible in the video posted online. Her lawyers claim the full-version of the video shows her being subjected to a cavity search after Hamilton.
Video, filmed by police dashboard camera, showing Brandy Hamilton and Alexandria Randles' ordeal on May 28th, 2012.
Just a few days earlier in Dallas, driver Ashley Dobbs and her niece were stopped for allegedly throwing cigarettes out of their car window, a claim which they deny. A video captured on police dashboard camera shows how officers deemed it necessary to carry out cavity searches on both women. The women sued, the female police officers have been fired and the case is settled.
The fact that two similar searches were captured on police dashboard cameras hundreds of miles apart in the same state has prompted human rights lawyers and activists to claim they were not random, isolated incidents, but an all too common police practice. Furthermore, the women who were asked by their male colleagues to perform the searches appeared to object in the videos. Both women have since claimed they were simply following orders.
Allie R. Booker, Hamilton and Randle’s lawyer, calls the incident in Brazoria County a “roadside sexual assault”, telling FRANCE 24 “you can’t justify that happening, right there on the side of the road. They would’ve been justified in doing a pat-down, where they could have patted the women’s vagina, breasts and behind, but penetrating them is against the law. We can’t do that here in the United States”.
Booker also told FRANCE 24 that while the senior male officer has lost his job, the female officer, who was initially sacked too, has been reinstated on the grounds she was following orders from a senior. Her legal team wants a third officer, Aaron Kindred, who was present but not involved in the search to "stand up in court and take responsibility, because he's guilty of letting a crime happen and not protecting the victims". Aaron Kindred happens to be Brazoria County Deputy Sheriff and according to Booker, "Brazoria are doing nothing, they're saying he hasn't done anything wrong. They're a remote, proud county that think they can get away with anything".
Screenshot of video showing Trooper Nathaniel Turner walking towards Brandy Hamilton's car, shortly after flagging it down.
“I felt violated, and I can no longer trust the police"
Brandy Hamilton, 27, was driving the car. She subjected to a cavity search by a female police officer.
The senior police officer, that’s Nathaniel Turner, was the one who stopped me. He said I was speeding, that I was going over 60 miles an hour, but I wasn’t. Then he said he could smell marijuana in my car. I said I didn’t have any, he searched the car but found nothing. That’s when he said he needed to search my private parts. He called the lady over, Jennie Bui, she penetrated my vagina and my behind.
I felt violated, and I can no longer trust the police now. I thought they were the people I could talk to if I had a problem: I thought they were there to protect me. I don’t know who I can turn to now if ever I’m in trouble.
“I want an apology”
Alexandria Randles, 26, was Brandy Hamilton’s passenger. You can't see her in the video, but you can hear her. She was subjected to a cavity search by a female police officer.
I feel violated, ashamed, raped. It was a horrific, traumatising situation to be in. What happened was disgusting, and it just happened there on the side of the road.
There’s been so much exposure on the internet and in the media, it’s been everywhere and everyone knows. I’m honestly so embarrassed about what happened, it’s so humiliating.
I have no words for the people that did it, I have nothing I can say to them. I want an apology, that’s all I want. I want them to say sorry for what they did and take responsibility.
This article was written with France 24 journalist Claire Williams (clairewf24)