Marine vet files lawsuit after being forcibly strip-searched by officers in disturbing video

A black Marine veteran has filed a lawsuit against officers of the LaSalle County Sheriff's Department in Illinois after claiming she was left naked in a jail cell for 12 hours.

28-year-old Zandrea Askew is suing LaSalle County Sheriff Thomas Templeton and several deputies for forcibly strip-searching her during a January 2017 incident.

“What are you doing, what are you doing, what are you doing?” Askew can be heard yelling desperately even as her voice betrays tears. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Askew’s lawsuit contends that the arrest that led to the search, including the search itself, was illegal and accuses the deputies of trying to cover up their misdeeds by deleting video of the encounter.

THE BEGINNING

According to the suit, it all began on the night of January 20, 2017, when two deputies approached Askew, who was sitting in her car and made her perform field sobriety tests.

Despite passing the tests, according to her lawyer, the former marine sergeant was arrested and charged for DUI and resisting arrest. Those charges were later dropped.

Askew was later taken to a hospital where deputies tried “to obtain a blood sample” from her with no legal justification, claims the suit.

THE HUMILIATION

After the hospital visit, Askew was taken to the county jail in Ottawa. There, the suit alleges, at least three female sheriff’s deputies dragged her into a cell, threw her to the ground and “unreasonably and deliberately attacked and restrained [Askew] causing injury to [her body]” while others looked on.

The cell where the ex-marine was held had a surveillance camera, and her attorney, Terry Ekl provided a video of the degrading encounter.

In the disturbing clip, two deputies lead Askew into a cell, holding her on either arm, while a third followed closely behind.

One of the deputies can be heard saying:

“You have one chance to cooperate with us and then we are going to be taking your clothes off of you ourselves.”

“Are you going to undress yourself?” the deputy asks, and when Askew doesn’t answer, she follows up with: “Don’t just look at me like I’m stupid. I’m asking you a question.”

When Askew refuses to respond, one of the deputies throws her to the floor, and the others spring into action, undressing her.

“What are you doing, what are you doing, what are you doing?” Askew can be heard yelling desperately even as her voice betrays tears. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

THE CASE

According to ABC 7 Chicago, Illinois law allows for strip-searches but only when someone is suspected of hiding weapons or drugs. Askew had already been searched twice before she was taken to jail and humiliated.

Ekl told the station:

"They did what they did to her because she wouldn't answer their questions. Plain and simple. She was defying their authority. Therefore, they wanted to humiliate her to get her to do what they wanted by ripping her clothes off.”

As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, Askew’s lawsuit described her experience as “demeaning, dehumanizing, undignified, humiliating, terrifying, embarrassing, and degrading,” and seeks over $1 million in damages.

Following the advice of the LaSalle County Sheriff's Department lawyers, Templeton refused to comment on the charges brought against them.

ANOTHER PRIVACY VIOLATION

Like Askew, a teenager’s mom also sued the Beaumont Police Department last September, claiming that a male officer strip-searched her daughter in her presence and that the incident was videotaped.

According to that suit, the girl’s constitutional rights against unreasonable search and due process and privacy were violated, and that both the girl and her mother “suffered physical, mental, and emotional distress, invasion of privacy, the loss of enjoyment of life, and a violation of due process of law.”

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