Woman says strip search after DUI arrest went too far - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

Woman says strip search after DUI arrest went too far

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Courtesy NBC Chicago

A 33-year-old woman is suing LaSalle County, Illinois after jail surveillance cameras captured four deputies forcibly stripping her and leaving her in a cell without her clothes when she was arrested for drunken driving.

Dana Holmes, who lives in Coal City, filed a federal lawsuit against LaSalle County authorities Monday alleging three men and a woman pulled her to the ground and carried her into a cell where they stripped her and walked out with her clothes, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.

"This wasn't a search. They just stripped her," Holmes' lawyer, Terry Ekl, said. "To do a strip search you need to have reasonable grounds to believe she either has a weapon on her or she's secreting drugs. That didn't exist here."

Holmes was arrested May 18 for drunken driving with a blood-alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit, according to the report.

On video and audio recordings from the police car's camera, Holmes failed a field sobriety test and was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. She volunteered to take an alcohol breath test, which registered 0.226, nearly triple the .08 the legal limit, but appeared to be cooperative with the arresting officer, the Tribune reported.

In a report filed after Holmes' release on May 19, sheriff's officers reportedly said the Marseilles officer who arrested and transported Holmes said she was "being mouthy and causing problems," but no description on her demeanor during her transport was stated in the DUI police report filed two days after her arrest.

Footage from the jail shows deputies fingerprinting and photographing Holmes more than an hour after the strip search, covering her in only a blanket.

Holmes alleges the sheriff's department and four deputies violated her civil rights after the May arrest and caused her emotional harm by stripping her naked without legal justification.

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 and requires the search be conducted by an officer of the same sex.

"She doesn't understand how law enforcement officers who you're supposed to trust, who are supposed to be there to protect you, could do something like this," Ekl said.

Ekl says Holmes wants the officers to be fired and criminal charges filed in the case.

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