There is a bizarre case out of Miami where officer Prabhainjana Dwivedi, 33, was arrested by the FBI for allegedly pulling over female drivers solely to look at their breasts and make “sexually suggestive conversations.” What was most striking about the story is that this was an FBI investigation based on the claim of a civil rights violation. It shows how far federal jurisdiction has extended into previously state areas.
The FBI says that it witnessed Dwivedi pulling over women “without probable cause, reasonable [suspicion] or other lawful authority to conduct a stop.” In one incident, he asked a woman to “lower the zipper on the front of her dress down past her breasts to her mid-stomach.” He held her for one hour and 20 minutes before being released without a citation. In another incident, he allegedly noticed a child seat in the car and threatened a 24-year-old woman that, if he arrested her, she could lose her child. When she asked to take a sobriety test to show she was not intoxicated, he refused. He then reportedly discussed the woman’s breast enhancement surgery, and asked “if she had any photographs of her breasts.” She then reportedly let him see photos on her phone. He stated, according to the complaint, that he wanted to see the scars from the surgery and unbelievably “M.F. then lifted her shirt and showed Dwivedi the scar.”
There is also the basis for a tort action in this case. While there is no false arrest, there is the intentional infliction of emotional distress. It would make for an interesting case with the woman who consented to lifting her shirt. To the extent that she felt reasonably compelled by the show of authority, the consent would not be a viable defense. Privacy claims are difficult due to the fact that much of the viewing was in public. However, requiring the unzipping of clothing under the display of authority would raise such a claim. Clearly a veiled threat to one’s custody over one’s child would be sufficient to deny an argument of consent.
In either the criminal or tort case, Prabhainjana Dwivedi will likely argue that the stops were justified and it could come down to any video evidence or witness testimony from the FBI agents.