This is absolutely mind boggling. 15 months ago, after having called police because she had been assaulted, an Ohio woman was arrested for “disorderly conduct” and charged with “resisting arrest”. What happened next is, in my opinion, a textbook example of excessive force (and, later, what some might call sexual assault) perpetuated by butched-up cops intoxicated by the entitlement that comes packaged with a badge and a gun.
According to Salem News, Hope Steffey is suing the Stark County Sheriff’s department for “assault, battery, unreasonable seizure and deliberate indifference by failing to provide adequate medical care.” Her husband, Greg, the athletic director at Salem High School, is also named as a claimant in the suit for “damage from “unreasonable governmental actions by the defendants.””
Named as defendants are Sheriff Timothy A. Swanson, the three commissioners, Deputy Richard T. Gurlea, along with John and Jane Does numbers one through 15.
The Stark County Sheriff reportedly denied the allegations.
The narrative of court documents said that on Oct. 20, 2006 Hope Steffey was allegedly assaulted by another woman on Weimer Dr. S.E. and Gurlea responded, questioned Steffey and asked for identification and she “mistakenly” produced the driver’s license of her dead sister, which she kept as a personal memento.
She immediately recognized her mistake and asked for it back, but Gurlea allegedly refused.
Documents say she “begged” for the return of her license but it wasn’t returned.
The deputy then ran a computer check of the right license and Steffey’s cousin noticed a bald spot on her head from the assault.
The cousin “reminded” the deputy that Steffey was the victim while advising Steffey of the hair loss which made her visibly upset.
The documents alleged Gurlea failed to call for medical assistance despite knowledge Steffey was injured.
Gurlea the, documents allege, warned Steffey to calm down and Steffey replied she was upset and could exercise her freedom of speech and her cousin again attempted to remind the deputy that Steffey was the victim and she had been knocked unconscious by the assailant.
The deputy allegedly refused to acknowledge her injuries.
Court documents said that after searching Steffey’s car, he turned to the two and questioned the cousin when Steffey asked for her sister’s license back.
Gurlea allegedly turned angrily and responded “shut up about your dead sister.”
Steffey pointed her finger at her sister’s license in the deputy’s pocket and said, “she was here, she was someone” and Gurlea allegedly, suddenly exploded into a rage and allegedly slammed her face into his cruiser breaking a tooth, and pinning her against the cruiser, allegedly saying, “are you going to stop?”
The documents allege Gurlea then threw her to the ground causing cuts and bruises and with the weight of his body on her she could not breathe.
Steffey was then handcuffed and told to sit in the cruiser.
Once at the station, the ordeal continued as Steffey was forcibly strip searched by 7 sheriff’s deputies–including 2 men.
Eventually, Steffey was arrested and taken to the Stark County Jail, charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. But once in custody, her attorney says seven jail workers, male and female, forcibly removed Steffey of all her clothes, including her undergarments, while she lay face down in handcuffs. Local news footage shows Steffey wailing, asking “What are you doing?!?”
“And you have to ask yourself, what was the purpose of the strip search?” said Steffey’s lawyer. “What was the necessity of it? This was a disorderly conduct claim.“
As noted by The Raw Story, even though it is department policy for “officers conducting any strip search to be of the same sex”, Stark County Sheriff Timothy A. Swanson is trying to claim that Steffy was not actually strip searched. Yeah. And I’m sure that leaving her naked in a freezing cold cell for seven hours and denying medical assistance doesn’t constitute “cruel and unusual”, either.
Hope Steffy was the one who was assaulted, first by a member of the general public, then (allegedly) by a law enforcement official who had been summoned by Steffey’s cousin for assistance (“The cousin “reminded” the deputy that Steffey was the victim * and decide for yourselves. Just remember: “). Later, after having been arrested for apparently no good reason other than the arbitrary whim of an overzealous (read: power-mad) sheriff’s deputy, Steffey was subsequently “raped without penetration” by those who are supposed to serve and protect the general public (so says the rumour mill, anyway).
Libby Spencer gets an unequivocal “hear hear” from yours truly:
I don’t believe in violence, but if she doesn’t win her court case and these cretins skate, I hope the good citizens of this town riot on the streets. This really shouldn’t happen in America.
Unfortunately, all too often it does happen, both in America and north of the border. Once again, we are reminded that, as far too many law enforcement officials are concerned, blind obedience on the part of the citizenry is paramount (“are you going to stop?”)
Welcome to 21st century policing, where excessive force is operational policy.
*Warning: video can be triggering.
(update 04/08 – video fixed, h/t BlueBerry Pick’n @ BnR)
h/t Crooks and Liars