Black Couple Subjected to Humiliating Public Body Search


Before I go on, I must warn you that the content of this article is graphic.

I am hesitant to print the names of the people involved, because as far as I am concerned, they were both victims of sexual assault, and it is not customary to print the names of sexual assault victims. But you will find their names in this Washington Post article which is linked below, along with the video described in this article.

A video of a police stop recorded a male passenger in a car receiving a “cavity search” on the side of a busy street. The lawsuit also claims that the female driver was searched in such a way as to expose her breasts on the same busy street in broad daylight.

The driver and the passenger were black. All six police officers who ultimately took part in this incomprehensible act, were white.

These searches took place after the officers who stopped the car ran the driver’s license and registration, and found nothing inappropriate. The male passenger was then asked to produce identification. Although there was no legal reason for him to be asked for identification, and no legal requirement that he, as a passenger in a car, should present identification, he voluntarily complied. The police found that he had an arrest record prior to 2006, but no problems with the law in the past decade.  At a certain point in the video, and officer is heard saying “You are going to pay for that, Boy.”

The rectal search cannot be seen on the video, but there is no doubt of what is going on. The officer repeatedly refers to what he says feels like a “rock.” The passenger, who was accused of no crimes at the time of this incomprehensibly humiliating act, repeatedly explains that it is a hemorrhoid.   The unedited version of the video, which I have not seen, is reported to record a full three minutes of the cavity search.

Later in the video, the officer is heard saying “I didn’t see anything but I didn’t get all the way up there to get a vertical upshot. I just pulled his underwear back, but I didn’t see nothing.   But it felt.. he said it was a hemorrhoid, but it’s a rock. It’s a rock in the crack. It’s gotta be a rock. He’s got it up his butt. But there is no way to justify it. He says ‘I ain’t got nothing here.’”

Ultimately the couple is allowed to leave the scene. No charges were pressed because no crimes had been committed.

One can only imagine the painful silence as they drove away. I don’t know what happened in the minutes and the hours and the days and weeks that followed. Did they cry? Did they scream? Did they talk about it? Did they try to pretend that it didn’t happen?

Honestly, I cannot imagine.

I don’t have to imagine. I am a middle aged white woman. This would not have happened to me. I could, of course, be sexually assaulted. Perhaps even by a police officer. But not in the company of six cops. In broad daylight. On a busy street. It wouldn’t happen. You know this. I wouldn’t be arrested and put in a cell because I refused to put out a cigarette during a traffic stop, and then end up dead. I wouldn’t be shot to death three seconds after the police arrived if I were playing with a toy gun in a playground. And if I were suspected of selling illegal cigarettes on the street, I would not be put in a deadly chokehold.

These sorts of things don’t happen to people “like me.’

But they continue to happen.

If you are a white person who does not understand the #blacklivesmatter movement, please take just a moment to close your eyes, and imagine yourself enduring what this couple endured. I know it is hard. But try. Put yourself right there. Click on the link below, and listen to the audio, and imagine that one moment, you are driving along in a car, and the next moment you are going through the events recorded in this video. Would you be angry? Wildly angry? Would you want to take to the streets? If you still say no, I suspect that either you didn’t try hard enough to imagine yourself there, or you are lying to yourself.


    • I really applaud the reporter who brought this event to light. But I wish he had treated the couple the way victims of sexual assault are generally treated. I wish he had chosen to keep their names private, and blurred faces in the video. Because they were victims of sexual assault. It is a story that needs to be told. But it could have been told while respecting the privacy of the victims.

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