Avondale, AZ — A Phoenix woman is suing the town and two Avondale police officers for forcing her to perform a field sobriety test while being naked from the waist down.
The woman, who suffers from incontinence, had soiled herself earlier and removed her pants and underwear on her way home from the Phoenix International Raceway. The woman, whose identity is being protected, repeatedly asked officers Ronal Bergeron and Justin Iwen to at least be able to put back on her soiled clothes, but was denied at every request. According to ABC15:
The woman and her boyfriend were pulled over on March 5, 2016, as they headed home after at the Phoenix International Speedway, the lawsuit said. She was the designated driver.
When Officers Ronal Bergeron and Justin Iwen approached the car, she explained that she wasn't wearing pants because of her incontinence problem and asked if she could put them back on before got out of the car, the lawsuit said..
The woman said that Iwen did not acknowledge her concerns and instead demanded that she get out of the car, the lawsuit said.
She repeated her request, but Iwen declined and told her to get out of the car. Once outside the car, Iwen again refused another request to let her cover up, according to the lawsuit.
Instead of being allowed to clothe herself, she was forced to take the field sobriety test, alongside a busy road, while onlookers were passing by. She said she kept trying to pull down her shirt to cover herself, in a futile attempt to be covered. Patricia Ronan, the woman's lawyer, told ABC15, her client is a victim of sexual assault and as such, her identity is being protected. Ronan also said the police conducted an internal investigation, and not surprisingly, cleared the officers of any wrongdoing.
"But Ronan said the inquiry was flawed because her client was never formally interviewed by the person who conducted the investigation. The police report about the stop makes no mention of the woman being naked from the waist down, Ronan said," writes ABC15.
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The woman is seeking damages of up to $250,000 for the humiliating, and some might say, traumatizing event. Her boyfriend, who was also in the vehicle with her, will likely confirm her story and testify on her behalf. To date, there's been no mention of any bodycam footage of the incident.
Because the officers conveniently made no mention of the woman's nakedness in their report, it's become a he said she said case. Fortunately, for the plaintiff, however, she was given a warning ticket for an improper left turn, which proved the traffic stop took place. Phoenix area police officers wear body cameras, and if body camera footage confirms and corroborates the woman's story, once again, the American taxpayer will likely be footing the bill for yet another judgment against a police department.
Incidents like the one above serve to illustrate just how vulnerable young women are when they encounter police officers in something as routine as a traffic stop. Precautions must be taken by women to ensure their safety. If a woman doesn't feel comfortable pulling over on the side of the road, she can call 911 and inform the police dispatcher she intends to stop at the first gas station, for example. But even a preventative measure such as the one just mentioned would not have prevented the insensitive actions, heartless, and quite possibly perverted actions on the part of two officers of the peace who allegedly should have known better.
If you don't think things like this can happen, watch the video below of a college teen being given a field sobriety test wearing only her shirt and underwear.