Angel and Ashley Dobbs were driving down the George Bush Turnpike in Dallas, Texas, this past July when they were pulled over by a state trooper who saw one of them throw a cigarette butt out of the window. Whilst writing up a ticket for littering the trooper supposedly smelled weed in the car. When the trooper refused to believe the women were not in possession of marijuana he called for back up from a female state trooper. State trooper Kelley Helleson arrived at the scene and proceeded to perform a “painful and humiliating” cavity search on each woman, without even replacing her rubber gloves between searches.
The two women have filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) challenging the legality and brutality of the searches. According to the lawsuit, released Tuesday, Helleson used her fingers to search inside each woman’s genital areas without consent. The Dobbs women also state that the trooper did not explain the extent of her search prior to their examination. When asked by Angel Dobbs why she was putting on blue latex gloves she told her “not to worry about it.” The search took place on the illuminated roadside in full view of passing vehicles.
The aunt and niece are also suing Steven McCraw, the director of the DPS, for being aware of a “long standing pattern of police misconduct involving unlawful strip searches, cavity searches and the like” yet failing to take any corrective course of action.
The search found no illegal substances on either woman or their vehicle and Angel Dobbs, the driver, passed a field sobriety test. Angel Dobbs feels the lawsuit is necessary to prevent further incidents like this one, which has had a lasting effect on her. “I was molested, I was violated, I was humiliated in front of other traffic. I had to watch my niece go through the same thing and I could not protect her at that point.” Scott Palmer, the family’s attorney, commented on the case arguing “this is outside the constitutional grounds by a mile. It’s not even close. 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.”
The incident was caught on video by the trooper’s dash cam and can be seen here (at your own discretion)