On June 21, 2015, Charnesia Corley, a 21-year-old black woman from Houston, Texas, was pulled over by a Harris County Sheriff’s deputy after allegedly running a stop sign. The deputy claimed he smelled marijuana on Corley, and subsequently cuffed her and put her in the back of his patrol car while he searched her vehicle. Finding nothing, the deputy called a female officer to the scene to perform a vaginal search. Yes, a vaginal search. All because he suspected she had weed.
According to Corley, the female officer, upon her arrival, “tells me to pull my pants down, I said, ‘Ma’am, I don’t have any underwear on.’ She says, ‘Well, that doesn’t matter. Pull your pants down.’”
[Corley] admits hesitating. Deputies say she resisted.
“I bend over and she proceeds to try to force her hand inside of me. I tell her, ‘Ma’am, No. You cannot do this,’” Corley told us candidly.
She insists at no time did she give consent for any such search. She’s retained an attorney, Sam Cammack, who argues that a search like this in a public parking lot is a violation of her civil rights.
Cammack tells the Houston Chronicle that “Corley stood up and protested, so the deputy threw her to the ground and restrained her while another female was called in to assist. When backup arrived, each deputy held one of Corley’s legs apart to conduct the probe.” Corley was then arrested for resisting arrest and possession of marijuana. (Where the marijuana was found is not specified.)
The Harris County Sheriff’s Department claims that Corley consented to the roadside cavity search, referencing the officer’s notes where it says she told the deputy that he could “strip search her if I needed to.”
Corley and her attorney deny that she ever gave permission and say that the search was “undeniably” unconstitutional. (“A body cavity search without a warrant would be constitutionally suspect,” agrees the ACLU of Texas’ Rebecca Robertson. “But a body cavity search by the side of the road... I can’t imagine a circumstance where that would be constitutional.”)
“I feel like they sexually assaulted me! I really do. I feel disgusted, downgraded, humiliated,” Corley, who is now going public with her story, tells KTRK.
She and Cammack have filed a complaint with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office’s Internal Affairs Division.
Reviewing today’s events: White 20-year-old male drives stoned, takes silly selfie with his arresting officer. Black 21-year-old female suspected to be in possession of weed is restrained, has police officer’s hand forcibly inserted into her vagina.
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Image via KTRK.