Crime: Woman says Phoenix police sexually assaulted her, seeks $12.5M from city - PressFrom - US

CrimeWoman says Phoenix police sexually assaulted her, seeks $12.5M from city

00:25  25 june  2019
00:25  25 june  2019 Source:

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Woman says Phoenix police sexually assaulted her, seeks $12.5M from city© Provided by Gannett Co., Inc.

A 37-year-old woman is asking Phoenix to pay her $12.5 million to settle her claim that a Phoenix police officer sexually assaulted her during a body cavity search last year.

Erica Reynolds, through her lawyers Heather Hamel and Steve Benedetto, filed a notice of claim Monday at Phoenix City Hall. The claim is a precursor before a lawsuit is filed in court.

According to the claim, Phoenix police officers pulled over Reynolds on Dec. 26 as part of a drug-trafficking investigation in south Phoenix. They pulled her over because she had met with the primary suspect, according to the claim.

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Officers also patted her down and searched her vehicle, but they didn't find any drugs, the claim says. Officers also had a K-9 dog sniff for drugs, but the dog didn't indicate it found any in Reynolds' car.

Still, they arrested her and took her to the station where a female officer conducted a cavity search, the claim says.

READ THE CLAIM: Erica Reynolds' Notice of Claim to the Phoenix Police Dept.

The cavity search injured her so much that she began to bleed, the claim says.

"After the body cavity search revealed nothing, Erica was released to her daughter. In physical pain, bleeding rectally, and traumatized, she eventually asked her daughter to take her to the hospital," the claim says.

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At the hospital, Maricopa Medical Center, she told staff members, "I think I was raped by police officers. They did a body cavity search and now I have bleeding."

According to medical records mentioned in the claim, medical staff wrote Reynolds had been sexually assaulted and had rectal bleeding.

Police told medical staff that they would not be investigating Reynolds' allegations, the claim says.

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According to the probable-cause statement, police had intercepted calls between Reynolds and the primary suspect. Reynolds had agreed to buy drugs from the suspect, the statement says.

According to the claim and court records, on Jan. 22, the primary suspect, Charles Riggins, was charged, along with various other people, in connection with the drug-trafficking investigation.

Court records don't indicate Reynolds is charged with any crime in connection with the Dec. 26 encounter.

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Reynolds again stopped by police

On Jan. 11, Reynolds posted a Facebook video describing what she said police did to her the month before. Hamel's law firm took her case and sent a letter to Phoenix police demanding the department preserve all the evidence it had about the encounter.

Poder in Action, a Maryvale-based advocacy group, expressed support for Reynolds and via a Facebook event encouraged the community to raise concerns at a Feb. 6 Phoenix City Council meeting.

On Feb 6, the day of the council meeting, Reynolds was stopped by Phoenix police and questioned, according to the claim. Her lawyers found Reynolds at a hospital being questioned by two Phoenix police officers, the claim says.

The claim says that police recommended criminal charges against Reynolds because of the incriminating statements she made during the questioning at the hospital, the claim says.

Still, prosecutors have not filed charges against Reynolds, the claim says.

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'They treated her body like a crime scene'

Hamel, who spoke at a news conference Monday morning outside City Hall, called police's cavity search on Reynolds unconstitutional.

Parris Wallace, an organizer for Poder, said her group wants the officers who were involved in the Dec. 26 encounter to be fired.

Wallace, who also spoke at the news conference, said Poder came out in support of Reynolds to demand change, including a "comprehensive" body cavity policy and a civilian police review board with subpoena power.

"They treated her body like a crime scene," Wallace said. "Not like a mother, not like a daughter, not like a human."

Uriel Garcia covers public-safety issues in Arizona. Reach him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @ujohnnyg.

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    This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Woman says Phoenix police sexually assaulted her, seeks $12.5M from city

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