#SayHerName is a movement started by the African American Policy Forum because black women and girls are disproportionally subjected to police brutality and abuse. It is a call to uplift the names of those mostly forgotten and to seek justice.
And although Charnesia Corley did not lose her life in her interaction with Houston law enforcement two years ago, what happened to her was beyond the pale and by all accounts excessive.
As previously reported by The Root, on June 20, 2015, Corley was pulled over around 10:30 p.m. by two Harris County, Texas, deputies after allegedly running a stop sign. The officers said they detected the smell of marijuana.
An initial search yielded nothing, but according to Metro UK, dashcam footage released last week shows one of the officers talking to a passenger who was already in custody, saying, “Oh, we are going to find something, even if we have to put our hands on her.”
The recently released video shows police first slamming Corley to the ground and then taking her pants off, leaving her naked from the waist down in a Texaco parking lot.
“They then took Miss Corley and placed both ankles behind her ears spread-eagle position and started to search for something in Miss Corley’s cavity in her vaginal area,” said her attorney, Sam Cammack, to Fox 26 Houston. Cammack described his client then as “a 21-year-old African-American, female, college student, had never had any criminal history, never been in trouble.”
This ordeal went on for 11 minutes before Corley was allowed to emerge from beneath the car and cover her naked body.
Cammack calls it “rape by cop.”
Fox 26 reports that charges against Officers Ronaldine Pierre, 34, and William Strong, 37, were dismissed Aug. 4, the same day the case was set to go to trial. Harris County prosecutor Natasha Sinclair claims that there is “new evidence” but says that it must “remain secret.”
She also seems to excuse the behavior of police.
“I feel terrible for what happened to Miss Corley. It should never have happened, and unfortunately we are in the business of prosecuting criminal offenses, and though it may not be criminal, it doesn’t mean she won’t receive justice,” said Sinclair.
Metro UK reports that police found half a gram of marijuana on Corley that night, but all charges against her were later dropped.
Cammack says that his client is suing for the release of the full video, and he is calling for an independent prosecutor. They are also suing the county in federal court for violating Corley’s civil rights, according to Fox 26.
It could have been worse. Philando Castile was pulled over because of marijuana and was summarily shot and killed. So there’s that.