Back in July Angel Dobbs and her niece, Ashley Dobbs, were pulled over by Texas state trooper David Ferrell for throwing cigarette butts out of their window just outside Carrollton. In the midst of that stop, the Dobbses were subjected to a body cavity search--in full view of those driving by. Now, the Dobbses are filing a federal civil rights suit against Feffell, his colleague and the Texas Department of Public Safety, saying that search was blatantly unconstitutional.
In the dashcam video released by the women and their attorney, Ferrell can be heard telling the women they would both be cited for littering for throwing cigarette butts out of the car.KXAS-TV in the Metroplex obtained the dashcam video. Watch it here (warning, NSFW):
Farrell then returned to his cruiser and, in the video, can be heard calling female Trooper Kelley Helleson to the scene to search both women whom he said were acting weird.
While waiting for Helleson to arrive, Farrell asked Angel Dobbs to step out of the vehicle and began questioning her about marijuana use. In the video, the Trooper is heard telling Dobbs he smelled marijuana coming from the vehicle while asking her several times how much pot was in the car.
The lawsuit, viewable here, accuses Farrell and Holleson of an egregious abuse of their authority. While Holleson performed the body cavity search--using the same set of gloves for both women--Farrell searched the car. The Dobbses consented to neither. After the troopers found no evidence of pot in the car, Angel Dobbs passed a field sobriety test, and the two women were let off with citations. To add insult to injury, Angel Dobbs' anal cyst condition was irritated by the search, and the troopers may have stolen a bottle of prescription medication from one of them.
The Dobbses' attorneys say--rightly so--that the troopers' actions were flat-out inexcusable.
"This is outside the constitutional grounds by a mile. It's not even close," attorney Scott Palmer said. "This has to stop. These two need to be stopped. There's no telling how many other people they've done this to and we hope that others come forward."This is absolutely horrific. If I'm the DPS, I'm seriously thinking about a settlement. After all, given the circumstances they'd be absolutely crazy to let this go to trial and force Farrell and Holleson to testify under oath.
Attorney Charles Soechting, Jr. said his father was a DPS Trooper and he has great respect for the agency. "But in this instance they have completely failed the citizens of Texas," Soechting said.
Soechting said a records request to DPS produced no policy that allows for cavity search of any suspect in public.
"What we're dealing with is a Class C Misdemeanor. It does not justify any type of pat down, let alone an invasive search of cavities of women," he said.
3:23 PM PT: As a side note, I'm most disturbed about Holleson's actions. You'd think a woman would be horrified at the prospect of doing this to another woman.
3:39 PM PT: Several commenters have mentioned that by not changing gloves, Holleson put these women at risk for significant infection. I stand corrected--the Dobbses shouldn't even think about settling.
4:17 PM PT: Apparently this isn't the first time Farrell has gone over the line--back in 2009, he slammed a passenger to the ground for no apparent reason. Check out the video ... tells you something about DPS hiring standards, doesn't it?
Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 5:36 AM PT: Since this is still on the rec list this morning, I thought I'd pass along that Helleson, the female trooper who conducted the body cavity search, has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of a new investigation.