In October of 2019, Ariel Harrison, now 31, was thrown in a concrete room, shocked with a taser, as a man kneeled down on her, and helped a female strip her naked. Another male with a gun stood above her and watched before joining in on the sadistic attack, and tearing off her underwear. This vicious sexual assault was captured on video yet none of the perpetrators were arrested for their actions — because the perpetrators were cops.
Harrison’s nightmare started after she was pulled over for a DUI stop in October 2019. Harrison, who is blind in one eye, was arrested and brought to the Macomb Police Department without being given a sobriety test. During the stop, Harrison claims she was tasered multiple times, causing her to fall unconscious before waking up in a jail cell. According to an attorney for Harrison, no breathalyzer or field sobriety tests were performed at the scene, during arrest or during her detainment.
“When they pulled me over, they didn’t really explain to me, they just pulled me out of my car,” Harrison told Vice News.
She was then tasered multiple times and thrown in the back of a police car. When she woke up in the jail cell, her nightmare continued as officers attempted to strip her down even more.
Harrison’s abuse was documented in two videos. The first video shows Harrison in the concrete cell with her hands cuffed behind her back. Officers enter the cell and begin to attack her, stripping off her sweater and then tossing it into the hallway. After forcibly taking off her sweater, the officer took of the handcuffs and left her alone on the cell floor.
In the second video, which police did not release until nearly two years after the abuse took place, Harrison had been alone in the cell for several hours. As the video shows, a male and female officer enter her cell as the female officer threatens her with a taser. Harrison is completely peaceful and never attempts to harm or otherwise attack the officers.
Although the video has no sound, according to the captions in the video, Harrison pleaded with the officers to allow her some privacy because she felt uncomfortable stripping in front of a man.
“I had told her that it’s not right. That he wasn’t supposed to be there while I changed,” Harrison said. “She told me, ‘Well, he’s here with me.’ Basically, she didn’t really care. I felt like she violated my rights.”
As the footage shows, Harrison is flailing in horror as the officers begin to tear off her clothing off her piece by piece, throwing them out into the hallway. Seemingly unable to restrain himself, the officer who was watching the abuse, then joined in, kneeling down on her legs and forcibly removing her underwear. It was nothing short of sexual assault and it was entirely unnecessary.
After she was stripped bare naked like an animal, the cops walked out of the cell, leaving her naked and alone in her concrete hell. Later on, an officer returned and dropped what appeared to be a yellow suicide vest on the floor. The video then ends.
The officers would later tell their supervisors that Harrison was stripped nude because she refused to comply with orders to undress. However, in an interview last month, Harrison told VICE that she didn’t undress because she was afraid of being sexually assaulted. Unfortunately, her fears came true.
Disgustingly enough, the Macomb Police Department stood up for the officers involved and said they were justified in their actions, following all standards and procedures. “The incident was documented by involved personnel. Additionally, the incident was further reviewed by Department Supervisory personnel and documented per Macomb Police Policy and Procedures,” the department said in a statement. “The Macomb Police Department serves our community in a fair and unbiased manner as we report events objectively, impartially, and without bias.”
However, according to Sarah Grady, a partner at Loevy & Loevy in Chicago and head of the law firm’s Prisoner Rights Project, cross-gender strip searches are restricted.
“They shouldn’t be done in view of, or by members of, the opposite gender, unless there is an exigency. There has to be a justification for why there would be a cross-gender strip search because there is a recognition of the fact that cross-gender strip searches are particularly intrusive, they’re particularly harmful, especially for women,” she said.
After she was sexually assaulted by three cops, Harrison was charged with DUI and Assault on an officer. According to the Racial Justice Coalition, the assault charge is due to the fact that she grabbed the arresting officer’s collar while she was being tased and fell unconscious – something entirely out of her control.
She was found guilty and was scheduled to be sentenced this week. However, according to The McDonough County Voice, her sentenced was postponed for unknown reasons.
A petition was started at change.org to have all of her charges dropped and demands an investigation into the officers. It has received over 60,000 signatures.