Jamestown, TN — A stop for an alleged traffic violation turned into a nightmare for a 74-year-old grandmother when the police officer conducting the stop claimed to have smelled a plant. Because the police state claims the authority to violate innocent grandmothers over plant smells, the officers involved will face no punishment and now the taxpayers will be held liable instead.
Phyllis Tucker, 74, is now suing the city of Jamestown and Fentress County, claiming the city police and county sheriff departments have illegal policies involving the use of strip searches, according to News Channel 5.
Tucker tells reporters that the incident which unfolded earlier this year has left her and her family traumatized, and rightfully so. According to the lawsuit, Tucker was forced to pull down her pants and remove her bra in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant as bystanders watched.
"If it wasn't for my mother, I would never go back to Jamestown, never, and I wouldn't advise anybody else to go through there either," Tucker said.
Tucker was visiting her mother that night. She had her grandson, his girlfriend, and an infant in her car when a cop pulled them over and claimed to smell weed on her grandson's girlfriend, Kira Smith, 19.
Instead of simply letting this family go, who had harmed absolutely no one, the cop escalated the situation to what amounts to a public roadside sexual assault — all to search for a plant.
According to the lawsuit, officers from the Jamestown police and the Fentress County Sheriff's Department strip searched the two women in public view. According to the suit, Smith was ordered to "pull her pants down to her knees" and Tucker was told to remove "her blouse and bra" "exposing her breasts to the public."
"I just started crying and was humiliated. I didn't know if there was somebody who was going on the street that was seeing me with my top off," Tucker said.
The lawsuit states the forcing both men and women to strip on the side of the road is a common practice by law enforcement in Frentress County.
"It is the custom of Frentress County to conduct these type of strip searches," said attorney Wesley Clark who represents Tucker and Smith.
News Channel 5 reports that Clark also represents two other women who say there were pulled over in Fentress County in July, "stripped completely nude and searched" including being told to "squat" and "cough" while flashlights inspected their "genital areas," according to the lawsuit.
In that case officers found no drugs and the women left with a ticket for an "improper tag."
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"To argue that it's appropriate to strip women naked on the side of a public highway in search of marijuana is completely insane," Clark said.
We agree. Nevertheless, it continues to happen all across the country in spite of marijuana being legal in some form in over half the states.
Tucker explained to News Channel 5 that she tried to film the stop that night but the officers ordered her to stop, claiming they were getting it all on body camera footage. News Channel 5 said they requested the footage, but police only released a 7-minute clip from after the searches took place.
In this clip, however, you can hear the officer admit that she made Smith pull down her pants.
"I'm just trying to do my job and it's turned into this," the cop says, claiming that strip searching two women in public is a just act and it's the women who are in the wrong and not him.
The officer begins threatening the women with a body cavity search as which point Smith produced a tiny amount of weed and said, "I'm sorry."
The officer responds, "Sorry doesn't cut it. Where did you have it?"
The officer suggested that Smith had it in her waistline, but the female officer who conducted the search stops him, saying, "No it was not. It was in her underwear because I made her pull her ... waistline down."
Highlighting the pointlessness of this depraved act is the fact that no arrests were made and the two women were publicly strip searched so the cop could write a ticket. Sick indeed.
"I believe this case provides an example of the excesses of the war on drugs in America," Clark said.
"The federal courts have been clear for many years on when it's justifiable to conduct a strip search in public, and that's pretty much never," Clark said.
"What I would like is for this kind of thing to never happen to another woman, a girl, a woman of any age, simply because you have shame and you don't just get over it," Tucker said.