Hamilton County,TN -- What started out as a fishing expedition disguised as a window tint violation has ended with two Hamilton County deputies placed on leave for strip searching and sodomizing a man suspected of possessing an illegal substance.
Deputies Daniel Wilkey and Bobby Brewer stopped Latisha Menifee (driver) and James Myron Mitchell (passenger) as they were driving in a Buick last week. As the stop began, Menifee was immediately handcuffed and brought to the rear of the vehicle. Mitchell was likewise handcuffed and brought to the front of the police cruiser and his following mistreatment was captured on dash cam footage. The stop, they were told, was over window tint. However, they would quickly realize this was not the case.
While in handcuffs Wilkey and Brewer can be seen groping Mitchell’s genitalia in an apparent search for drugs. Even though the traffic stop was reportedly about window tint, no tint meter appears to be used during the traffic stop.
Instead, the stop quickly became a search for drugs after the officers claimed they smelled the odor of marijuana. Also apparent is Mitchell’s unease as the two deputies seemed to hone in on their suspected perpetrator.
Also of interest was how quickly officers escalated their use of force against Mitchell claiming the handcuffed man, who was doubled over their police cruiser, was somehow “resisting” arrest. Mitchell simply appeared to be squirming as he was handcuffed on the hood of a car and sodomized by cops in search of a substance deemed illegal by the state.
During the horrific event, the two law enforcement officers likely violated Mitchell’s 4th and 14th amendment rights as the search was provoked by a window tint violation. Mitchell was a passenger in the vehicle, not the driver, yet officers honed in on him.
According to the Times Free Press:
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According to a criminal affidavit he filed, Wilkey pulled a gold Buick over in Soddy-Daisy around 9:27 p.m. Wednesday because the window tint was too dark and he smelled the odor of marijuana on an otherwise empty country road. Wilkey wrote the passenger, 41-year-old James Myron Mitchell, told him he had smoked a joint and kept reaching in his waistband against orders. He was taken out of the vehicle and searched. The driver, Latisha Menifee, is related to Chattanooga Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod and does not appear to have been charged in the incident.
The released dashcam footage, however, does not line up with parts of how Wilkey describes the incident in the criminal affidavit. The video also shows a potential policy violation. After deputies took him out of the vehicle for a search, they shoved Mitchell's head onto the hood of the patrol vehicle and bent his arms behind his back. It's difficult to make it out, but a deputy can be heard telling Mitchell to stop doing something before kneeing him in the crotch. Mitchell is handcuffed the whole time.
The optics of the police contact did not go unnoticed even drawing the attention of the NAACP. Mitchell looked in the video like someone who was profiled for search and seizure all over a stop for an alleged window tint violation.
Because the officers' actions went past department guidelines, they have both been suspended with pay. According to the Free Press:
Deputies can "strip search" a suspect, according to a copy of the sheriff's policy implemented in 2014. That's where deputies can ask an arrested person to remove or arrange their clothes to "permit a visual inspection of the genitals, buttocks, anus, female breasts, or undergarments." But a body cavity search takes it one step further and involves probing these body parts. Not only can deputies not conduct them unless they have a search warrant or specific written consent, but a licensed physician or nurse is supposed to do the body cavity examination in a "controlled and private environment," according to the policy, which is based on state law.
Because the officers took it on themselves to sodomize Mitchell on the roadside, they have received a paid vacation.
Sadly, this is standard operating procedure in the war on drugs. Find a car, invent some reason to pull over the vehicle, place the motorists in handcuffs even before they’ve committed a crime. Key in on the the occupants suspected of having a drug history. Search said individual even down to the bare skin and bones, then earn a two week vacation while a review board finds a reason to justify the sadistic act.