A woman from Phoenix, Arizona, is set to file a $12.5 million lawsuit against the Phoenix Police Department over an alleged sexual assault. Erica Reynolds, 37, has accused a female police officer of assaulting her during a body cavity search. At a press conference held on June 24, 2019, Reynolds called the body search “illegal,” saying her rights had been infringed.
Police in Phoenix have confirmed that Erica Reynolds came into contact with police officers on the day of December 26, 2018. Authorities say Reynolds found herself entangled in an 18-month-long drug investigation. Police have admitted that she was subjected to a search by an officer. Reynolds claims the search was illegal because the officer failed to obtain a warrant or her personal consent, one of which is required prior to a body cavity search, according to Fox 10 Phoenix.
In light of these facts, Reynolds claims that the search constituted a sexual assault against her person. Phoenix police say an internal affairs investigation was launched immediately after the misconduct claims emerged. Authorities report that the officer involved in the search will be disciplined, though this is not necessarily an admission of liability.
Reynolds was swept up by police last December after being seen meeting a known drug dealer on Broadway Road in Phoenix. Investigators say they intercepted a private phone call in which Reynolds told the dealer she was going to hide drugs. In a traffic stop, officers patted Reynolds down and searched through her vehicle, finding no drugs. Also present was a K-9 dog, but the dog showed no indication of having smelled drugs on Reynolds’ person or in her vehicle.
According to Reynolds’ attorney, she was detained soon after by police. “Once at the station,” the attorney continued, “officers brought Erica to what appeared to be an interrogation room. And then, on instructions from the officers, she bent over as a female officer probed and searched the most sensitive parts of her body. Erica began to cry.” In a notice of claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, Reynolds’ legal team says she was injured so badly by the search that she bled.
“After the body cavity search revealed nothing, Erica was released to her daughter. In physical pain, bleeding rectally, and traumatized, she eventually asked her daughter to take her to the hospital,” the notice of claim reads. At the hospital, Reynolds told staff members, “I think I was raped by police officers. They did a body cavity search and now I have bleeding.” According to medical records, hospital staff believed that Reynolds had been assaulted, but police officers told the medical staff members that they would not be investigating Reynolds’ claims.
According to Arizona State law, consent is required before a body cavity search can be commenced. In lieu of consent, officers can obtain a warrant to search the person’s body, but this must be issued by a judge. Erica Reynolds says no such steps were taken in her own search. Instead, the officer forced herself upon her, constituting a sexual assault.