A Chicago woman has been awarded a $355,000 settlement after suing police for strip-searching her during a DUI arrest.
33-year-old Dana Holmes used surveillance footage captured in the police station as proof of her allegations that the four LaSalle County sheriff’s deputies were inappropriate when they forcibly strip-searched her following her arrest. The deputies said the their actions were justified because Holmes, who was over the legal blood alcohol limit, resisted their initial pat down.
"There's a lot of people that get DUIs, a lot of people that just make mistakes in life," said Holmes. "That still doesn't give them a reason to do what they did."
The video shows the three male officers and one female officer holding Holmes face down to the ground while they forcibly removed all of her clothes, including her underwear.
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“I was terrified. I felt helpless,” said Holmes at the time of the incident. “I was scared and I lay there crying... I just prayed.”
“There are on-duty deputy sheriffs humiliating and grouping a female inmate,” said Holmes’ attorney Terry Ekl. “It makes you wonder: Were these guys ever trained?"
Following the arrest and strip-search, Holmes sued the county because she felt the deputies violated her rights and caused her emotional harm. In the end, the county decided to settle the case.
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“The county and department believe it’s in everybody's best interest to focus on policies and protocols moving forward, rather than spending time and money fighting over who was right and wrong,” said attorney James Soto.
The LaSalle County Sheriff’s Department says they are working to enact a new strip search policy so that situations like these can be avoided in the future.
“There’s been a gap in these policies as to what’s permissible and not permissible in those situations,” said Soto.