A woman has agreed to accept a payout of $205,000 from the city of San Antonio, Texas, to settle her suit charging that her constitutional rights were violated when a cop not only performed a vaginal cavity search in the middle of the street but yanked out her tampon in the midst of it.
Natalie Simms’ attorneys say no amount of money will make up for the indignity and humiliation Simms suffered in August 2016 when San Antonio police conducted the “grossly invasive” search of her person, the New York Times reports.
The city admits no wrongdoing as part of the settlement, but, according to the city’s attorney, the deal was “in the best interest of all involved.”
Perhaps so—especially if, as the New York Daily News reports, the city planned to answer such a suit with what appeared to be the police department’s incredulous claim. As Simms’ attorney Dean Malone explained to the News:
“Believe it or not, police have contested that a body cavity search was done. They’ve alleged removal of a tampon is not a body cavity search because there’s no penetration.”
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Sounds like maybe somebody doesn’t understand the definition of “search” versus that of “penetration.”
In any case, as Malone told the News, “The dollar amount is not really indicative to her of what she experienced, but she believes the settlement is recognition that what happened to her was wrong.”
Simms filed a federal lawsuit against the city of San Antonio, as well as the female cop who personally conducted the search, Mara Wilson, surrounding the events on the evening of Aug. 8, 2016.
Simms was sitting on a street curb, on her phone, waiting for her boyfriend when she was approached by a group of male police officers. They asked Simms if they could search her car. According to her complaint, Simms agreed because she didn’t
want to risk being killed by the police know she could refuse.
A female officer, Wilson, was called to the scene, and she proceeded to conduct a search of Simms’ body, according to the lawsuit, the Daily News reports.
As the Times explains:
In Texas, it is illegal to strip-search a person or their property without their consent or a warrant, and searches of body cavities must be conducted out of public view.
However, according to the suit, despite not having Simms’ consent, as the News reports:
“Disgustingly, and in clear violation of Natalie’s constitutional rights, Officer (Mara) Wilson chose to reach into Natalie’s pants and pull the string attached to a tampon which was present in Natalie’s vaginal cavity,” the filing states.
“Officer Wilson was not confused at all about what she saw when she chose to shine her flashlight into — and ultimately thrust her hand into — the part of Natalie’s body which was most intimate. Natalie had not consented to such a search,” the paperwork alleges.
A “shocked” Simms asked Wilson why she acted as she had done, saying, according to transcriptions of police dashcam footage that captured the encounter, “It’s full of blood, right? Why would you do that?”
To which Wilson replied, as the Time reports, “I don’t know. It looked like it had stuff in there.”
Stuff? As in menstrual blood?
Anyway, that wasn’t even the end to the indignity, according to the complaint.
Officer Wilson then held up the bloody tampon and commanded Simms to stay still as she continued searching Simms’ genital area—all while still in the street and in the proximity of the male officers.
Simms, Malone told the Times, is “just glad to get on with her life.”