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Lawsuit: Traffic stop turned into embarrassing body search

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Two women have filed suit, claiming they were forced by authorities to undergo embarrassing body searches right on the side of the road.

The driver never denies she was speeding, but in the lawsuit, she, along with a female passenger, detail what they claimed happened to them in about 40 minutes.

The lawsuit says a DPS trooper stopped two young Houston women on Highway 288 as they returned from Surfside Beach on Memorial Day 2012 for speeding.

"Can I put my dress on?" the woman is heard asking on dash cam video.

"Don't worry about it; come on out here," the trooper replies.

The driver gets out in her swim wear.

"Very thin bikini, white and she has this beach hat on," said Allie Booker, the lead attorney for the women.

The trooper radios back with more information. The women are separated.

Today there is a pending marijuana possession case against one of the women, but what's being questioned in the lawsuit is the way they were treated along the side of the road.

"She's trying to lean against the car and comply with the orders, but every now and then, she has to get some relief from the hot car," Booker said.

At one point, the trooper even answers one of the women's phones.

"I don't know if that's who I've got in custody right now but I've got one, so you'll have to call back whoever's phone this is," the trooper says in the video.

A spokesperson for DPS says the department has not received a copy of the lawsuit but adds, "The department does not and will not tolerate any conduct that violates the U.S. and Texas constitutions, or DPS training or policy."

Another law enforcement officer arrives to help and a female trooper is called to do a cavity search.

"They feel violated. You're on the side of the road in front of the free world," attorney Tara Long said.

The women claim the female trooper did not change her gloves and they didn't like the language used.

"'We're about to get up close and personal with your womanly parts,'" Booker said the trooper told the women.

DPS says the department's inspector general immediately conducted an internal investigation. Trooper Jennie Bui was terminated a few days ago; trooper Nathaniel Turner is now suspended.

The women are claiming physical pain and mental anguish.

"Our clients just want justice," Booker said.

The Brazoria County Sheriff's Office also is mentioned in the lawsuit. According to the suit, a deputy from there also was involved in the traffic stop. However, the sheriff's office has declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

Find Christine on Facebook at ABC13ChristineDobbyn or on Twitter at @christinedobbyn

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