According to a report from The Riverfront Times, a St. Louis Metropolitan Police Officer performed an unauthorized vaginal cavity search of a female suspect, all while another cop was watching.
The incident allegedly occurred on the night of October 19th, 2012. Aspiring police officer, 24-year-old Kayla Robinson was a passenger in a car with a few other friends and were going home from a St. Louis Cardinals game. The friends made a U-turn on Goodfellow Blvd. at around 10:45pm. Supposedly suspecting the car was attempting to avoid a police checkpoint just ahead, Detective Angela Hawkins and her partner pulled the car over and began to question the individuals inside.
The police officers took Robinson out of the car, and according to RT, “Hawkins allegedly pushed the young woman up against a tractor-trailer and demanded to know where ‘the dope and the guns’ were.” That’s when Robinson says her nightmare began. Detective Hawkins then allegedly unbuttoned her pants, forced her to bend over while facing Hawkins’ male partner, and she then placed her fingers inside Robinson’s vagina, attempting to find drugs the detective believed were shoved inside. All the while Robinson was pleading for the cavity search to take place at the police station and not outside, in the open, in between several tractor trailers.
Robinson says her requests for a more private search were denied and she was forcibly penetrated by Hawkins. Now Robinson is demanding that Detective Hawkins answer for her actions in a civil suit filed against the officer as well as the city of St. Louis. According to the lawsuit:
Defendant Hawkins put the gloves on, turned Plaintiff around so as to face the male officer, and began unbuttoning Plaintiff’s pants. At this time, Plaintiff was crying hysterically and begging Defendant Hawkins to take her to jail and search her there. ... Defendant Hawkins instead forced Plaintiff to bend over and placed her fingers inside Plaintiff’s vagina. ... After finding no drugs on Plaintiff during the course of this unreasonable and unlawful search, Defendant Hawkins fastened Plaintiff’s pants and slammed her with excessive force into the parked trailer.
While Robinson’s attorney admits she was in possession of marijuana that evening, and surrendered the baggie to officers, there was no reason to suspect Robinson of being in possession of cocaine. After the incident, Robinson filed a report with St. Louis PD’s office of internal affairs. After having conducted an investigation of the incident, internal affairs told Robinson they wrote her a letter discussing their conclusions, but Robinson said she never received any final report. Three years after the incident, after not having received any word from their investigation, she reached out to investigators again who told her that the complaints against Hawkins were “sustained” and that she’d been “disciplined” but didn’t go into any detail about how she was disciplined.
As The Free Thought Project has uncovered on numerous occasions, a slap on the wrist would probably hurt worse than police departments’ so-called “discipline.” As we’ve reported to you on numerous occasions, police officers are often given paid time off, for months if not years while investigations related to their conduct are taking place.
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Jeremy Hollingshead, Robinson’s lawyer, commented on the case saying, “This is indicative of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department…They do it every single day. They target African Americans, oftentimes from northern areas of the city, and they try to shake them down. They make false allegations, threats against them, and their hope is that somebody is going to be weak enough to roll over and provide information to them." According to RT, along with Hawkins, the lawsuit names, “St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson, the city of St. Louis and two other SLMPD officers who were involved in the traffic stop and subsequent investigation.”
Going further, Hollingshead stated, “This is one of the most corrupt police departments in the country. They just don't learn…I know Kayla's hope is that a jury finally hits the city with a big enough number so the city says ‘OK, fine. We’re going to stop doing this.’"
In a statement provided by Robinson, she writes, “Because of my treatment by the police, I immediately realized that I could not work for a team that treats people differently because of their race…It breaks my heart that, since my police encounter, my own five-year-old daughter has told me that she only sees police as taking people to jail, not her friend." Robinson has reportedly decided to become a teacher instead of pursuing a career in law enforcement.
Lawsuits like Robinson’s have continued to place an unnecessary tax burden on citizens for the mindless and reckless actions of a few police officers. The failed war on drugs leads police officers to not only violate citizens’ fourth amendment rights, but also violates their human dignity and self-respect.
No citizen of such a capable country should have to endure any types of roadside cavity searches at the hands of peace officers, no matter the circumstances — and especially in the immoral war on drugs. The incident is dehumanizing, demoralizing, and works against establishing trust between the community and the police.
What must be going through a cop's mind as they publicly rape someone in search of an arbitrary substance deemed illegal by the state? How can someone sleep at night knowing they publicly raped someone, who had harmed no one, in search of a plant?
If tomorrow, the government declared that coffee was illegal, it seems preposterous to think that police would enforce such an immoral law. However, if history is any indicator, we could expect cops, nationwide, to begin kicking down doors and destroying homes in the name of illegal coffee — and society wouldn't think twice — as they are just doing their jobs.