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Texas State Trooper Suspended For Shocking Roadside Cavity Search


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http://blogs.lawyers...s_ProTweets12Q2

A Texas state trooper is suspended with pay and will face a grand jury next month for conducting a body cavity search of two women on the side of a highway near Irving, Texas, in full view of passing traffic and a male trooper.

Angel Dobbs and her niece Ashley Dobbs filed a lawsuit after trooper Kelley Helleson used her fingers to search the women’s vaginas and anuses without asking for consent or explaining that the search was about to take place. Video captured by trooper David Farrell’s dashboard camera showed that Helleson searched both women using the same rubber glove.

Warning: the video below contains graphic content which some viewers may find disturbing.

The search took place after Farrell pulled the women over for allegedly throwing cigarette butts out of the windows. After questioning them about the littering, Farrell changed the subject to marijuana, which he said he could smell inside the vehicle. Both women denied possessing marijuana, but Farrell had already radioed for Helleson to assist with the search. When Helleson arrived, Farrell told her the women were “acting weird.”

While Helleson conducted the cavity search nearby, Farrell searched the vehicle without seeking consent. Neither trooper found any marijuana, but Farrell still administered a roadside sobriety test to Angel Dobbs, the driver. Dobbs passed the test, and both women were given warnings for littering and allowed to leave.

Exceptions to the Rule

Attorney Norm Pattis calls the search “a chilling reminder of all we’ve lost from the Fourth Amendment.”

“While immunities have made it increasingly possible for police officers to escape liability for violating our rights, this suit should survive any legal challenge,” Pattis said. “The founders ought to be rolling in their graves over this outrage.”

Though the Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and requires warrants to be supported by probable cause, courts have carved out numerous exceptions over the years. A notable exception came from the Supreme Court in April, when it ruled that corrections officers can strip-search someone arrested for any offense, no matter how minor, before admitting them to a jail.

“The Supreme Court held that the penological needs of the prison outweighed individuals’ right to the privacy of their own bodies,” Pattis said.

But Pattis added that the Texas Department of Public Safety will have a hard time finding an exception to the Fourth Amendment that justifies Helleson’s search.

“If these troopers thought something could dissolve in her body, either disappearing as evidence or posing a threat to the woman herself, they could argue for an exception of exigent circumstances,” Pattis said. “But that would be extremely cynical. I’m not sure what could save this for the troopers. Cavity searches are extremely intrusive. There has to be a good reason for them.”

Possible Pattern of Violations

Steve McCraw, Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, is named in the suit alongside Helleson and Farrell. The suit alleges that McCraw “had actual notice of previous problems and complaints concerning a long standing pattern of police misconduct involving unlawful strip searches, cavity searches and the like, yet failed to take corrective action.”

But unless the Dobbs’ attorney can establish a solid connection between McCraw and the roadside search, he’s unlikely to share liability with his troopers.

“Under the Federal Civil Rights Act, there’s no vicarious responsibility,” Pattis said. “You have to prove direct culpability. If the attorney can find that specific misconduct was condoned or that [McCraw] was unwilling to train his subordinates properly, then theoretically he could be held liable.”

‘I Felt Helpless’

Ashley Dobbs said she felt “helpless” as she was searched, but it was more than just a feeling. While anyone is free to state objections to the police, no one has the right to disobey a police officer or resist arrest.

“You have to comply even with an unlawful command,” Pattis said. “You don’t have a right to resort to self-help.”

Pattis said that the best a person can typically hope for to stop an unlawful search is an opportunity to safely call 911 and ask for a supervisor to be sent to the scene.

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So did they find any weed?

Being forcibly sodomized on the roadside is a bit steep a penalty for littering. Even in Texas.

They found nothing. Both were given citations for littering for throwing out cigarette butts. I'd be interested to know whether there was an odor of marijuana in the car or not. The DUI task force stationed here in Columbus, the "Night Hawks," have already gained a reputation for sticking their heads inside cars full of totally sober people and saying the car "smells like a G-D bar."

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They found nothing. Both were given citations for littering for throwing out cigarette butts. I'd be interested to know whether there was an odor of marijuana in the car or not. The DUI task force stationed here in Columbus, the "Night Hawks," have already gained a reputation for sticking their heads inside cars full of totally sober people and saying the car "smells like a G-D bar."

All cops do that if they want to search a vehicle. Odor is such a subjective thing. How do you go about proving that a vehicle does or does not smell like marijuana or alcohol?

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I hope they put this bittch through the ringer. Nothing about this story indicates that this was ever even close to being necessary.

The video tells the entire story. Even giving her the benefit of the doubt that the car smelled like weed (maybe the b/f the aunt mentions had smoked in it) the officer's only other justification is that both females "were acting funny." Because of course the next logical step is to finger bang them.

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the old cig out the window stop, is such a pretense. yes it is littering, but i see cops do it all the time. either outside buildings throw it out, or out their car window.

hope the oficers get criminally prosecuted, and word gets to the prisoners who they are.

finger banging litterers.. or better yet lets assume they had mj in both hole of both women. its still a minimal amount.

remember its a bout mj, not meth or cocaine...

there is a reason why most cops are hated they think they can behave with impunity

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Repeat after me, I do not consent to any searches. Am I under arrest or am I free to go?

If they want to search your person or property, let them go before a judge and show cause, then come back with a warrant.

Probable cause is a ***********. I'm guessing the 'probable cause' here was the what the officer thought he smelled as marijuana. Obviously, you can refuse consent, but if there's probable cause to search the vehicle for contraband or whatnot then your consent (or lack thereof) means jack shyt.

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Probable cause is a ***********. I'm guessing the 'probable cause' here was the what the officer thought he smelled as marijuana. Obviously, you can refuse consent, but if there's probable cause to search the vehicle for contraband or whatnot then your consent (or lack thereof) means jack shyt.

Yeah, how does that work?

Officer: Do we have your consent to search your vehicle?

A. You say yes, they search your vehicle.

B. You say no, you are now hiding something, probable cause, they search your vehicle.

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Yeah, how does that work?

Officer: Do we have your consent to search your vehicle?

A. You say yes, they search your vehicle.

B. You say no, you are now hiding something, probable cause, they search your vehicle.

Nope. Refusing a search does not equate to probable cause. The officer has to show cause to a judge. Im not breaking any laws. If they want to waste mine, theirs, and a judges time getting a warrant to search my car based on the officer's sense of smell, then have at it. Odds are the judge is going to say no. The most likely scenario is the officer tries to intimidate me into consenting. The reason why they give you the "easy way, or hard way" speech is because they know that a judge is not likely to give them a warrant on such flimsy cause. Edited by Flip Flop
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Nope. Refusing a search does not equate to probable cause. The officer has to show cause to a judge. Im not breaking any laws. If they want to waste mine, theirs, and a judges time getting a warrant to search my car based on the officer's sense of smell, then have at it. Odds are the judge is going to say no. The most likely scenario is the officer tries to intimidate me into consenting. The reason why they give you the "easy way, or hard way" speech is because they know that a judge is not likely to give them a warrant on such flimsy cause.

The only caveat to this (I think, I'm not an expert) is if you refuse to give consent they can send for a dog. If the dog gives them an alert they then have probable cause. Flip's message is still valid though. If you aren't breaking the law refuse and wait for the dog. The more I think about what transpired in Mdrake's video the more upset I become. Even a low life ciggy out the window thrower doesn't deserve a strangers rubber gloved finger up the yahoo...I would have resisted violently then lawyered up.

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They found nothing. Both were given citations for littering for throwing out cigarette butts. I'd be interested to know whether there was an odor of marijuana in the car or not. The DUI task force stationed here in Columbus, the "Night Hawks," have already gained a reputation for sticking their heads inside cars full of totally sober people and saying the car "smells like a G-D bar."

Around the end of the month in Gwinnett County, a lot of the off-duty cops will go to bars and restaurants and sit at the bar while the pigs sit in their blankets down the road. The off-duty officers will alert them when people who have had a lot to drink leave. Not that there's anything wrong with getting drunk people off the roads, but they're not doing it for that reason, they're doing it for quota reasons.

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Around the end of the month in Gwinnett County, a lot of the off-duty cops will go to bars and restaurants and sit at the bar while the pigs sit in their blankets down the road. The off-duty officers will alert them when people who have had a lot to drink leave. Not that there's anything wrong with getting drunk people off the roads, but they're not doing it for that reason, they're doing it for quota reasons.

I've posted about the "Night Hawks" before, and I agree it's commendable to get drunk drivers on the road, but they don't have to be such ******* *** holes.

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The only caveat to this (I think, I'm not an expert) is if you refuse to give consent they can send for a dog. If the dog gives them an alert they then have probable cause. Flip's message is still valid though. If you aren't breaking the law refuse and wait for the dog. The more I think about what transpired in Mdrake's video the more upset I become. Even a low life ciggy out the window thrower doesn't deserve a strangers rubber gloved finger up the yahoo...I would have resisted violently then lawyered up.

Its true, the officer can usually get a dog or use his 'experience and sense of smell' as probable cause, but if I refuse his search, then he gets a dog or justifies his search as probable cause, all he going to find out is that I have some gum and a leatherman in my glove box. If the same cop pulls this trick too many times, he is going to start having his search warrants denied. He is going to end up in trouble or out of a job. If people just go along each time, then he is going to continue to waste law-abiding citizens times with searches because they consent.

On a side note; I am generally pro-cop. They dont need to search my property without cause. I am not breaking any laws, so the only person wasting anyone's time is the cop who has a hard on for me and my property.

Edited by Flip Flop
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