Albany Police Charged with Series of Abusive Cavity Searches

A very disturbing series of allegations have been made against the Albany police involving abusive cavity searches, including one alleged performance in public.

Women have accused the police of conducting cavity searches with little or no suspicion of crime acts. Crystal Royal, 22, has sued, alleging that she was strip-searched in January by the Albany Police Department and then forced to undergo a pelvic cavity search at Albany Medical Center Hospital. Nothing was found.

This filing follows another complaint by Lisa Shutter who charged that she was given a cavity search on a public street during a traffic stop in December.

Royal said that was stopped by police on the interstate even though she had valid license and properly registered car. She also alleges that police took her cellphone and inspected
her call list. She was then given a strip search and cavity search at the station — nothing was found. She was later charged with a felony drug conspiracy count.

A third person, Tunde Clement, has also alleged such abuse. He claims that he was arrested at the Albany bus terminal and forced to undergo a strip-search at sheriff’s headquarters. He was then transported to Albany Medical, forcibly sedated, and given an involuntary anoscopy, X-rays and other examinations in a search for drugs. No drugs were found.

It is highly irregular to see such a pattern and should certainly justify further investigation. While cavity searches are routinely performed in prisons and other venues without a warrant, they are considered unreasonable under the fourth amendment without a sufficient showing of need and suspicion. The forced sedation case raises further questions over the need for a court order. In his case, he was forced to vomit and put through measures that cannot be treated as routine. Click here, for the Clement story.

For the full story, click here

6 thoughts on “Albany Police Charged with Series of Abusive Cavity Searches”

  1. At random I opened a book at Elgin Illinois public library. It detailed the outrageous practices of the Chicago police department in the 1970’s to compel a strip search/cavity search just when tickets were issued. You guessed it; nearly all were women subjected to extreme humiliation, even over a busted tail light. Very disturbing.

  2. As a follow up on this topic, the Ninth Circuit announced a ruling 8/22/08 against San Francisco for a strip search policy used in jails without sufficient suspicion from 2002 to 2004. From sfgate:

    San Francisco violated the rights of thousands of jail inmates who were strip-searched without authorities having any reason to believe they were carrying weapons or contraband, a divided federal appeals court ruled Friday.

    Under the policy, every inmate who was designated for transfer to another jail was subjected to a visual body cavity search.

    Jail officials said they needed the strip searches to keep inmates from smuggling guns and drugs into the jails. But the appeals court, upholding a federal judge’s 2005 ruling, said the policy violated constitutional standards that allow such searches only for specific reasons – that the inmate is charged with a violent or drug-related crime, has committed those crimes in the past, or is reasonably suspected of concealing contraband.

    Sheriff Michael Hennessey changed the jail’s policy in January 2004 to conform to those standards.

    “Blanket strip searches of (newly arrested inmates) regardless of severity of charge and without reasonable suspicion is unconstitutional” under the court’s rulings dating to 1984, Judge Sidney Thomas said in Friday’s decision.

  3. DW, I couldn’t agree more. What scares me is how many other people think such abusive treatment by police and the criminal courts is “justified”…as long as it isn’t THEM on the receiving end of the rough treatment. In other words, innocent until proven guilty for THEM, guilty until proven innocent for everyone else. Which is why I don’t go out as much as I used to.

  4. Susan,

    One of the recurring themes in the topics on this board is the abuse of police powers.

    Since 911 I believe that that community has felt “empowered” to take more aggressive and physical approaches to the execution of their jobs. It is a nationwide thing and represents a shift in an occupational culture.

    In short, I think a social scientist might sift through the data and conclude that citizens are more at risk for being treated roughly by police officials now than say 8 years ago.

  5. DW, I don’t know how Albany L.E. can say their abusive practices are NOT racial profiling with a straight face. Has the occurrence of violent crime in Albany gone down so far that their police have to go LOOKING for new “criminals” to prosecute? This story, and others like it, would strongly suggest (to me anyway) that the Albany Sheriff’s Department and its related police agencies have too much time on their hands, and not enough warm bodies in their jails. Or, to borrow a quote from an excellent investigative journalist, “….and if they couldn’t find any ‘monsters,’ then they’d create some.”*

    *From MEAN JUSTICE, by Edward Humes

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