On Wednesday, the Phoenix City Council approved a payment of $1.6 million to Erica Reynolds, a 37-year-old woman illegally body-cavity searched as a part of a drug investigation.
AZ Central reports that the payment was passed by a 7-2 vote with councilmen Sal DiCiccio and Jim Warning voting no. DiCiccio, while conceding that the officer behaved inappropriately, said that any other officer would be better off with the money instead of Reynolds. If that doesn’t give you a good indication of my city, I don’t know what will.
Reynolds was pulled over by officers Jason Hamernick and Aaron Lentz on Dec. 26, 2018 as a part of an 18-month drug-related investigation. The Phoenix Police had intercepted a call between Reynolds and Charles Riggins, the primary suspect of the investigation. On that call, she agreed to buy drugs from Riggins, according to a Feb. 25 internal affairs report. They requested a female officer, Timaree Murphy, to search Reynolds at the scene before bringing her back to a police station. According to the internal affairs report, after finding nothing Lentz told Murphy “There is one other place it could be that we need to check.” Murphy then told Reynolds they were going to do a cavity check. Reynolds refused only for Hamernick to respond “We can and we will.”
According to the $12.5 million notice of claim that Reynolds’ lawyers filed in June 2019, Reynolds told a nurse after the search, “I think I was raped by police officers.” The internal affairs report determined Murphy acted inappropriately when she conducted the body-cavity search without consent or a warrant.
The ruling comes at the end of a banner year for Phoenix P.D that includes a viral video showing an officer threatening to shoot a pregnant mother in her face in front of her four-year-old daughter, firing a record number of officers for racist and violent posts on Facebook and a report showing that in 2018 Phoenix P.D led the nation in officer-involved shootings.