Jun 21, 2013 No Comments ›› Jake Hammer
Excerpted from THE LEDGER
LAKELAND | State Attorney Jerry Hill sent a letter to the Lakeland Police Department this week criticizing the actions of an officer who, in an unjustified hunt for drugs, instructed a woman to shake out her bra and searched her car as she pleaded with him to stop.
Officer statements and documents show the bra-shaking search has been used in other cases, Hill wrote to Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack.
“This highly questionable search method is not only demeaning,” Hill wrote, “but is ineffective and possibly dangerous.”
He went on to say that if a suspect had a weapon hidden under her shirt, such a method could allow her to grab it.
Officer Dustin Fetz asked the woman to lift her shirt above her stomach, pull her bra away from her chest and shake it, all without a reason to suspect she carried drugs during a May 21 traffic stop, according to Hill’s letter and a State Attorney’s Office investigation report.
Unsatisfied with her first attempt, Fetz made her lift and shake her bra a second time.
Again, no drugs tumbled out. None were found in a search of her, her boyfriend or the car they were in.
In his letter, Hill cited a DUI arrest in which another woman threatened to have an officer fired for sexual harassment after the same type of search.
“Even a suspect who provided breath samples of 0.198 and 0.188 was able to grasp the impropriety and the demeaning nature of this type of search,” Hill wrote.
“I hope training and supervision deficiencies can soon be corrected,” he wrote at the end of his letter.
“Continued use of these practices will have an adverse impact on the case involved.”