Police officers are just…ugh.
In June, 21-year-old Black woman, Charnesia Corley from Houston, TX, was pulled over by a Harris County Sheriff’s deputy after allegedly running a stop sign. This already sounds a little too close to Sandra Bland’s tragic story. Bland was pulled over because she didn’t use a signal to indicate that she was switching lanes.
The deputy who pulled Charnesia over claimed he smelled marijuana, so of course he had to handcuff her and put her in the back of his patrol car while he searched her car. That sounds like protocol.
The officer didn’t find anything, so naturally he did the next best thing he could do: a vaginal search. A. Vaginal. Search.
According to Corley, the female officer, upon her arrival, “tells me to pull my pants down, I said, ‘Ma’am, I don’t have any underwear on.’ She says, ‘Well, that doesn’t matter. Pull your pants down.’”
According to KTRK, Corley hesitated, but the officer claimed she resisted. Corley said, “I bend over and she proceeds to try to force her hand inside of me. I tell her, ‘Ma’am, No. You cannot do this.’”
She insists at no time did she give consent for any such search. She’s retained an attorney, Sam Cammack, who argues that a search like this in a public parking lot is a violation of her civil rights. And basic human decency!
This wouldn’t be so terrible if there wasn’t an instance where a 20-year-old White boy was arrested because he was driving while high and had the chance to take a ridiculous selfie with the officer who arrested him.
According to Corley’s lawyer, Cammack, “Corley stood up and protested, so the deputy threw her to the ground and restrained her while another female was called in to assist. When backup arrived, each deputy held one of Corley’s legs apart to conduct the probe.” Corley was then arrested for resisting arrest and possession of marijuana. (Where the marijuana was found is not specified.)
However, how’s this for a response? The Harris County Sheriff’s Department tried to claim that Corley consented to the roadside cavity search, referencing the officer’s notes where it says she told the deputy that he could “strip search her if I needed to.” Even if Corley said that, strip searching a woman on the street? Has that ever been done before?
“A body cavity search without a warrant would be constitutionally suspect,” agrees the ACLU of Texas’ Rebecca Robertson. “But a body cavity search by the side of the road… I can’t imagine a circumstance where that would be constitutional.”
Authorities have reached a level of irresponsibility that is seemingly irreversible. They can do whatever they want, come up with some off-the-wall defense and get away with it. I hope Corley is able to sue the pants off of them.
Every marijuana activist and feminist should stand up in solidarity with Charnesia Corley.