LaSalle, IL- We know that drunken people can be combative and police sometimes have to take control when they get out of hand. But there are times when officers lose their patience with intoxicated arrestees and cross the line and subject an individual to abuse or brutality. That is exactly what a Chicago-area woman says happened after she was arrested for intoxicated driving in May. She is now suing the county for subjecting her to a strip search after she was taken to the LaSalle County jail.
Dana Holmes, 33, was pulled over by police for drunken driving in May. She was three times the legal limit, but she wasn’t combative, nor was she giving arresting officers a hard time. Her arrested record made no note of her being uncooperative with police, and dashcam footage of her arrest shows her complying with police as she was placed under arrest and transported to the county jail, the Chicago Tribune reported.
But once she got to the LaSalle County jail, things took a turn, and it was all captured on surveillance video. Once Holmes arrived at the jail she was patted down by a female officer in front of four male officers. As the female officer is checking the soles of Holmes’s feet, police say she kicked at them. They perceived this as combativeness so she was wrestled to the ground by the fourofficers who worked together to remove all of her clothing, including her underwear, leaving her naked on the cold floor of the jail cell.
They leave the now weeping Holmes alone in the cell for a few until they opened the cell to throw her blankets and a “padded suit,” but didn’t return her clothing. In the arrest report, police said Holmes was informed she would remain in the cell “until she sobers up and was willing to cooperate and not fight with deputies,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
Holmes said there was no justification for stripping her since she didn’t kick at officers or struggle against them while at the county jail. She was highly intoxicated so she says the kick officers referred to was her simply losing her balance, she explained to the Tribune.
Being combative is not justification for strip searching any drunken driving offender. Under Illinois law, police can only conduct a strip search of they have reasonable suspicion that the offenders is hiding drugs or a weapon and the search must be conducted by an officer of the same sex and cannot be observed by anyone not conducting the search.
Holmes and her attorney have filed a federal lawsuit against the county, alleging they violated her civil rights when they conducted the strip search and the officers’ actions were “official” misconduct.
As for the DUI, Holmes pleaded guilty to the charge in July and was given probation.
“There’s a lot of people that get DUIs, a lot of people that just make mistakes in life,” Holmes told the Tribune. “That still doesn’t give them a reason to do what they did. My dignity is worth more than that, and other people’s too.”
Holmes said after the strip search she felt degraded.