Trans Woman Sues D.C. Police for Harassment


A trans woman is suing the Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service, alleging she was placed with male prisoners after being arrested in 2009 and was harassed by police and fellow detainees.

Patti Hammond Shaw, of Southeast Washington, alleges that after turning herself in to officers at the Sixth District station in June of 2009 following notice there was a warrant out for her arrest over filing a false police report, she was unlawfully harassed and improperly housed.

Reports the Washington Blade:

The lawsuit states that the male marshal who searched Shaw “groped her breasts, buttocks and between her legs repeatedly and excessively.” She further alleges that other marshals made crude comments about her breasts and gender.

The lawsuit claims that marshals placed Shaw in a holding cell with approximately 30 men who were going to traffic court. “Several of the men in the holding cell touched Ms. Shaw inappropriately, verbally harassed and propositioned her, threatened to punch her if she did not show her breasts to them, and shook their penises at her,” it reads.

Shaw also claims that she was forced to urinate in a cup in “full view of the men in the holding cell.” She further states that a male detainee to whom she was chained touched her “inappropriately several times” as they went into D.C. Superior Court. Shaw said that the marshals told the man to stop harassing her and instructed her to ignore him. She alleges that the male detainee continued to harass her and the marshals “did not take any further action.”

A 2007 policy change mandates that D.C. police must hold trans detainees in individual cells, that they must honor the detainee’s gender identity, and also that they should pass on this information to the U.S. Marshals Service and all other relevant agencies involved in the transport and care of the prisoner.

The false report filed by Shaw dates  back to a May 14, 2009, incident when she dialed 911 to report that she believed her friends had stolen her purse from her place of residence. She subsequently found her purse before police arrived. She then made a second 911 call claiming that two young men robbed her while she was in her front yard with her dogs. This claim was not factual either. She later pleaded guilty to filing false police reports but was spared jail time.

While Shaw has been allowed to pursue a state claim against the police force, a federal claim she had made was thrown out in November of last year, with a judge warning that he believed her state-level case was unlikely to succeed.

Reports the Courthouse News Service:

On Nov. 24, 2009, Shaw sued the metro officers and deputy marshals for assault, battery, emotional distress, and negligence. She later added a claim for cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

On Friday, Judge Huvelle dismissed all of those claims on procedural grounds, and remanded the remaining state-law claims to Superior Court.

The judge predicted that those claims will also fail, quoting the case Agudas Chasidei Chabad of U.S. v. Russian Federation. “Certainly, if the federal claims are dismissed before trial, … the state claims should be dismissed as well,” the ruling states.

The Justice Department recently announced new standards designed to combat the epidemic of sexual assaults in American prisons, something which disproportionately impacts LGBT and intersex inmates. Read more on that here.


Related Readings:
‘Spot the Transgender’ Ad Banned By British ASA
NYT Focuses On How ‘Curvaceous’ Dead Trans Woman Was
Teacher Allegedly Mocked Student & His Trans Prom Date

Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to Dar.


Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin6 years ago

Steve R. And Jane R.: Are you married to eachother or just different nicks for the same troll?

James Campbell
James Campbell7 years ago

Strange ... last time I checked, verbal & physical abuse, groping and insults were not the the statutory punishment for wasting police time (or any other misdemeanour/crime for that matter).

Whatever opinion some members of the public hold re. trans people (or anyone else they regard as ‘different’), to excuse this kind of behaviour on the part of the police is foolish in the extreme. Condoning crimes (and that is what is alleged here) by police officers is a very slippery slope for everyone. Without the fair rule of law for even those we don’t approve of, we are all threatened, if one day, we don’t fit with the blueprint drawn up by the thugs who insult the proud record of genuine police officers.

Christina B.
Christina B7 years ago

@Jane R.

It's true, all her previous false reports will weigh unfavorably on her being considered reliable. It all depends on whether there will be witnesses who would collaborate her story, although apparently, her being placed with male inmates is harassment, too.

BUT, your comment of how "none of these would have happened if common sense was used" is irrational. What this story shows is that people (men, in this case) are more than ready to harass LGBT people, be that in prison, on the street or online. Or do you actually believe that Ms Shaw was never harassed before?

Robert B.
Robert B.7 years ago

whether she was placed with male inmates or other females should be a matter of public record. If it happened, she was harassed. People should remember, when cases like this appear, that if you are blessed with a daughter, wife, or girlfriend, she could be treated the same way--placed with a lot of male inmates. If the grievance isn't addressed, your daughter, wife, or girlfriend would also be unable to hold jailers accountable.

Anita Wisch
Anita Wisch7 years ago

This sure has gotten the comments section buzzing.........

Jane R.
Jane R7 years ago

This person should have been placed in "administrative segregation". This is for thier own protection.

She/he should learn not to call 911 and make false reports. None of this would have happened to her/him if common sense was used.

The law suit should be thrown out. No one knows for sure if the alleged complaints really happened. This person is not reliable.

Valarie Snell
Valarie Snell7 years ago


Susan C.
Susan Curtis7 years ago

Still trolling only the LBGT Rights Care2 articles, ey Steve? Wouldn't your time be better spent trolling men's restrooms and learning the toe tapping code? People like you always exist. You're a little too curious about gay people because you don't have the guts or moral character to face your own curiousities. Get over that, bitch!

Sharon H.
Sharon H7 years ago

What's the matter Steve...too afraid to call it what it is? It's a penis! No, you'd rather show how low class you really are by calling it a dick.

Meghan F.
Meghan F7 years ago

Lynda D. and Steve R. your attitudes are telling. You can't imagine a situation outside your own. Lynda, your repeated use of scare quotes around the gender pronouns in your comment shows your ignorance about trans issues, and Steve it is people like YOU perpetuating the cruelty of humanity. We don't have to sit down and take it. The 'special provisions' you rail against are one of the measures used to MITIGATE abuse and cruelty.