ONTD Political

Texas set to 'terminate' trooper following roadside cavity searches

11:48 am - 01/30/2013


By Frank Heinz and Ken Kalthoff, NBCDFW.com

The female Texas trooper who performed a roadside cavity search on two women will be terminated, according to the Department of Public Safety.

Th two women from Irving are suing rooper David Farrell, Trooper Kelley Helleson and the director of the Department of Public Safety for what they call an unconstitutional search without probable cause.

DPS spokesman Tom Vinger released the following statement on Tuesday: "The Director of DPS has made a preliminary determination to terminate Kelly Helleson. By policy, she will be given the opportunity to meet with the director before the decision is finalized."

Helleson was suspended with pay on Dec. 19. Farrell was suspended with pay effective Dec. 21 pending the outcome of an investigation into the incident.

On July 13, while driving along State Highway 161, Angel Dobbs and her niece Ashley Dobbs were stopped for littering by Farrell. In the dashcam video released by the women and their attorney, Farrell can be heard telling the women they would both be cited for littering for throwing cigarette butts out of the car.

Farrell then returned to his cruiser and, in the video, can be heard calling female Trooper Helleson to the scene to search both women whom he said were acting weird.

While waiting for Helleson to arrive, Farrell asked Angel Dobbs to step out of the vehicle and began questioning her about marijuana use. In the video, the trooper is heard telling Dobbs he smelled marijuana coming from the vehicle while asking her several times how much pot was in the car.

After Helleson arrived, she can be seen in the dashcam video putting on blue latex gloves to conduct a search of both women. According to the lawsuit, when Angel Dobbs asked about the gloves, Helleson "told her not to worry about that."

'I was totally violated'
In the lawsuit, Dobbs said the trooper conducted the cavity search on the roadside, illuminated by the police car's headlights, in full view of any passing motorists.

"This has been an eye-opening experience for me. I've never been pulled over, never searched like this. I was totally violated over there a few minutes ago... this is so embarrassing to me," Angel Dobbs said on the video.

"I've never been so humiliated or so violated or felt so molested in my entire life," Angel Dobbs told NBC 5.

Dobbs said she never gave consent for the trooper to "frisk, pat-down, search or otherwise touch her" and that she never gave consent for Farrell to search her vehicle -- which he can be seen doing in the dashcam video while the cavity search was under way.

Dobbs said she was powerless to stop it. "What are you going to say? What's going to happen to you if you challenge that authority?" she said.

With the cavity search concluded, Farrell then asked Dobbs about prescription medications found in the car. Dobbs said they were for her thyroid and for migraines. According to the lawsuit, Dobbs also suffers from a medical condition that was irritated by the search.

Meanwhile, Helleson can then be seen performing the same cavity search on Dobbs' niece, Ashley.

"It's because somebody is a daily smoker in that car. OK, you can attribute it to that," Farrell can be heard saying on the recording.

The lawsuit further alleges that Helleson performed searches on both women, touching both their anus and vaginas, without changing the latex gloves between searches.

"I don't think anybody needs to have to feel, or go through what we went through," Ashley Dobbs said. "It crosses my mind every day. It's humiliating," she said.

After searching the entire car and finding no narcotics, Farrell then administered a DWI test that Dobbs passed, the lawsuit said. The women were then issued warnings for littering and released at the scene.

The lawsuit goes on to say that a bottle of prescribed hydrocodone was missing from Dobbs' car and purse after the search. The women returned to the scene of the traffic stop the next day to search for the medication, but it was nowhere to be found.

Their lawyers say the search was illegal and a complaint about it was filed in August but that DPS Texas Rangers who investigated the incident took no action.

"This is outside the constitutional grounds by a mile. It's not even close," attorney Scott Palmer said. "This has to stop. These two need to be stopped. There's no telling how many other people they've done this to and we hope that others come forward."

Attorney Charles Soechting Jr. said his father was a DPS trooper and he has great respect for the agency. "But in this instance they have completely failed the citizens of Texas," Soechting said.

Soechting said a records request to DPS produced no policy that allows for cavity search of any suspect in public.


"What we're dealing with is a Class C misdemeanor. It does not justify any type of pat-down, let alone an invasive search of cavities of women," he said.

DPS has not commented on the case.

The women are requesting a trial by jury and are asking for unspecified, compensatory and exemplary damages and interest as well as recovery of attorney's fees and court costs.

The Dallas County District Attorney's office told NBC 5 it has received the case and will refer it to a grand jury this month.

Source:  http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/30/16769883-texas-set-to-terminate-trooper-following-roadside-cavity-searches?lite

The dashcam video of the incident is at the source with trigger warnings, I didn't watch it...

Edited for the cut fail...sorry

69love_songs 30th-Jan-2013 09:16 pm (UTC)
Well shit, everything about this is horrible.
fluffydragon 30th-Jan-2013 09:18 pm (UTC)
This either needs and LJ-cut or yours isn't working for me.
lolahead 30th-Jan-2013 09:38 pm (UTC)
I had a cut fail for some reason and edited appropriately. Sorry.
oceandezignz 30th-Jan-2013 09:26 pm (UTC)
Welp there went the idea of lunch...
cinnamontoast 30th-Jan-2013 09:50 pm (UTC)
This shit just keeps getting worse.

While I'm glad that the female trooper is getting terminated, what about the trooper who pulled them over? For pitching a cigarette? Because the car smelled like smoke? Are you kidding me? Are cops no longer trained to tell the difference between pot and tobacco? And since when does being suspected of smoking a joint call for a full body cavity search? He called in another trooper to DO the search. What for?

The war on drugs (and tobacco) has made people completely insane.
tabaqui 30th-Jan-2013 10:34 pm (UTC)
This. They both need to lose their jobs.
officer_down 30th-Jan-2013 11:31 pm (UTC)
"And since when does being suspected of smoking a joint call for a full body cavity search?"

It doesn't. Maybe it's different in Texas, but when I went through the police academy in New York, they taught us that if you think someone shoved contraband up their ass or swallowed it, send them to the hospital. Shoving your hand down someone's pants over possible weed is pretty fucked up.

"He called in another trooper to DO the search. What for?"

He called a female trooper because the people to be searched were female. That's actually common if you have a female officer nearby. I get called up a lot by the police department in the neighboring city to do strip searches on females.
cinnamontoast 31st-Jan-2013 01:38 am (UTC)
Exactly! None of it makes any sense. There was no reason to do anything to these women unless Texas routinely does body searches on people for littering.
eponaschild 31st-Jan-2013 02:36 am (UTC)
In Texas, throwing a cigarette out the window in the summer can lead to a really dangerous wildfire. So I can understand him pulling them over for that.

The rest of the story is totally fucked up tho.
kakorrhaphio 30th-Jan-2013 10:40 pm (UTC)
just...what. the fuck.
louisiane_fille 30th-Jan-2013 10:45 pm (UTC)
I can't even. The total fail in training here just blows my mind.
lolcatielol 31st-Jan-2013 12:06 am (UTC)
It's lovely that the male officer who called the female officer to the scene to conduct the search apparently isn't getting fired. They both need to have their jobs terminated, not just the female officer.
wowsolovely 31st-Jan-2013 02:29 am (UTC)
This is scary this could have happened to my friend and I. It was late just hot off work but we looked young got pulled over for bs reasons and they go "oh I smell pot" I personally can't stand being stoned so no way my car smelled like pot. They searched my car for hours and felt up my friend it was really upsetting but at least this didn't happen to us.
moonshaz 1st-Feb-2013 10:23 am (UTC)
Tbqh, I have to admit that my opinion of people who throw cigarette butts out of car windows is generally a very negative one. It's just plain gross, plus it's bad for the environment, and in some cases (like drought conditions) it's downright dangerous. Afaic, NO ONE should do that, EVER.

However, as strong as my disapproval of cigarette butt tossing is, it pales in comparison with the absolute screaming outrageousness of this fuckery. There are truly no fucking words.

Edited at 2013-02-01 10:23 am (UTC)
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