A Florida woman, Leila Tarantino, is suing over a forced strip search in which one officer forcibly removed her tampon. The incident occurred last July when Tarantino was driving through Beverly Hills, Florida. The original officer alleges she rolled through a stop sign. A new report notes that the officer, who was sitting in the opposite direction of traffic, pulled a u-turn and quickly pulled Tarantino over.
What follows plays like everyone’s worst nightmare, especially with children in the back seat of the car. Tarantino reports that the officer pulled out his gun and did not explain why he pulled her over. The Palm Beach New Times reports that she was placed in the back of a squad car for two hours to wait after the officer pulled her over.
While she sat there, and her children remained in the back of her car, backup arrived on the scene. This backup included three more male officers and one female officer. They proceeded to strip search Tarantino and the female officer allegedly “forcibly removed” a tampon from Tarantino during the search which took place in plain sight of passing traffic, and her children.
The officers have maintained that the strip search was conducted in order to ascertain whether she was carrying any drugs. RT News quotes Tarantino’s lawyers on the issue of unnecessary searches:
Citrus County Sheriff’s Department had nothing in its policy and procedures manual regarding when and how it is legal and proper for its officer to perform a strip search and its failure to train its officers evinces a deliberate indifference to the constitution rights of Citrus County citizens.
ABC Action News cites a long quote by the Citrus County Sheriff’s Department that flat out denies that the search, or the forcible removal of the feminine product, occurred:
The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office wants to go on record as saying the allegations made in this lawsuit are not only ludicrous, but completely untrue. Yes, a traffic stop was conducted on July 17, 2011. The plaintiff was issued a criminal citation for violation of restrictions on her driver’s license. She also was issued a written warning for rolling through a stop sign.
No strip search was conducted, and the plaintiff’s tampon was never forcibly removed by any deputy.
It is the Sheriff’s Office intent to aggressively defend itself against these malicious allegations.
Tarantino has been arrested multiple times in the past for drug possession, driving under the influence and domestic battery.
The logic behind the statement suggests that she deserved to be searched because she had a prior criminal record. So, if someone possessed drugs in the past and was caught, his or her human rights are negated? Although the statement maintains that nothing out of the ordinary happened on the night of the search, the last comment also suggests that Tarantino had fewer rights, right out of the gate, because of her past conduct.
Photo Credit: Drew Stephens