North Carolina officer below hearth after driver claims sexual assault throughout DUI patdown
A North Carolina police officer’s search for a woman during a DUI stop reportedly crossed a line, but the prosecutor disagrees.
In the early hours of September 25, a 26-year-old driver stopped to refuel on St. Mary’s Street, Lansing.
Police officers then surrounded her and said they had seen her hit some curbs along the way, suggesting that she was driving under the influence of WRAL.
When they tested the driver, they found that it had a blood alcohol level of 0.15, which is almost twice the legal limit under North Carolina law. According to the woman’s attorney, Karen Griffin, what happened next was beyond the limits of a typical traffic obstruction. Her client, who cannot be named for legal reasons, claims that she was the victim of sexual assault.
The police officer KE Van Althius can be seen in bodycam footage of the police, in which he searches the driver in handcuffs before opening her jacket. (Lansing Police Department)
The police officer KE Van Althius can be seen in bodycam footage of the police, in which he searches the driver in handcuffs before opening her jacket. “Do you have anything about you to worry about?” Asks Althius. “Something that would poke or poke me?”
The video was obtained by Griffin from the prosecutor to use as evidence in the case.
“I’ve never seen such an invasive search,” she said. “The officer touched my client in every way that a normal person, especially a woman, wouldn’t want to be touched by a man. He touched their breasts and shook them. He touched their private parts everywhere else.”
The officer also inspects the woman’s shorts before asking her to turn around.
“He got her to face the car, asked her to spread her legs apart, then asked her to spread them further, and ran his hand between her legs,” Griffin said.
Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman acknowledged the awkward situation but sees no crime. “Searches are inherently invasive to ensure the officer is protected,” Freeman explained. Adding a weapon can be as small as a needle or a razor blade.
“Is this something we would like to have done, or what we did? No. Is it something that is illegal in connection with conducting a search for an arrest? It doesn’t seem to be like that right now,” Freeman said. “Our job in this situation is to make a determination as to whether there has been a criminal offense. If we look at this tentatively at this point, we don’t see it.”
Lansing Police are currently investigating the incident, according to a spokesman.
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