A State Trooper Conducted a Painful Roadside Cavity Search Over a Phantom Weed Smell, Lawsuit Claims

cavity_search_plastic_glove.jpg
On July 13, Angel Dobbs was driving her boyfriend's car north down the George Bush Turnpike when they were pulled over by state troopers. The troopers said they had spotted Dobbs throw a cigarette butt out the window.

According to a lawsuit filed by the Dobbs yesterday in federal court, the traffic stop soon took a different turn. One of the troopers, David Farrell, took Angel Dobbs to a roadside field, where he peppered her with questions that quickly transitioned from general queries about where the pair was headed and to more pointed questions about whether they were transporting marijuana. He did the same with Ashley Dobbs. Both denied having any weed.

At that point, a second trooper, Kelley Helleson, arrived on scene. Farrell had called her because the Dobbs were "acting weird" and needed to be searched, according to the suit. So while Farrell began a search of the car, claiming by way of probable cause that he smelled marijuana, Helleson positioned Angel Dobbs in front of the spotlights from Farrell's cruiser.

At that time she explained that she would be searching Angel Dobb's person and put on blue latex gloves without explaining the need for gloves. When Angel Dobbs questioned what the term "person" meant in response to the request for consent to search her person, and why Helleson had latex gloves on, Helleson told her not to worry about that.

You can imagine where this is going, so we'll spare you the details, other than to say that, according to the lawsuit, Hellson's gloved hands went inside Dobbs' sweatpants and probed both front and back. And that Dobbs suffers from a skin condition called hidradenitis suppurativa that made the whole thing particularly painful. Without changing her gloves, Hellson performed an identical search on Ashley Dobbs, the suit claims.

When Angel Dobbs told Farrell she felt violated by the search, which had happened on a public roadway in full view of passersby, he told her it was justified by the odor of marijuana, which made it clear that "someone is a daily smoker in that car," according to the suit.

The pair alleges that Farrell and Hellson had no probable cause to justify the search and that their behavior violated established law governing cavity searches. This is a reflection not only of Helleson, whom they say has "performed numerous unconsented and illegal cavity searches of females and is an ongoing and pervasive problem," but of the Texas Department of Public Safety in general. They blame the agency's director, Steven McCraw, for failing to provide adequate training to troopers. The're are asking for unspecified damages.

Update at 3:13 p.m.: The Dobbs' attorney released a videotape of the cavity search today. This one was posted to YouTube by WFAA's David Schecter. The first search begins at 2:52.

Update at 4:29 p.m.: DPS just passed along a statement:


We do not discuss pending litigation. However, following the traffic stop that occurred in July of this year and based on a citizen's complaint, the Texas Rangers conducted an inquiry surrounding the events, and has since turned the results over to the Dallas County District Attorney's Office for review.

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69 comments
director21
director21

That bull dyke trooper should have at least kissed those girls while doing that type of search!

bm9999
bm9999

Using the link offered here,  I posted this to Hellison on their site: "If they don't fire you and file criminal sexual charges against you there is no justice. You're nothing more than a rapist with a badge and this is clearly not the first time you've enjoyed sexually assaulting a defenseless woman under the guise of "doing your job". You are a pig in every sense of the word and your actions have made me re-evaluate my opinion of ALL female officers. Trust me, you can thank your lucky stars that you didn't pull this crap on someone in MY family."

Here's their link: http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/PublicInformation/commendEmpl.htm

Specialmuhfuggin G Thats'me
Specialmuhfuggin G Thats'me

I work for the Star Telegram driving an 18 wheeler. These officers are out there on 161 EVERY single night doing these things to people. EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.

reverendvelvet
reverendvelvet

Phantom Weed - so good you didn't know you smoked it.

dms4425
dms4425

I like to know Officer Helleson work schedule a nice Handjob while cruising through the area would be great.

roo_ster
roo_ster

I know two trooper who have earned themselves righteous beatings.

Arden Ellis
Arden Ellis

And I live in Irving. This is what I have to worry about now??? Just plain disgusting that they are still working.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

why surprised??  Dept of PUBIC Safety.  Maybe the ossifer is a priest too.

call dps at 214.224 2205 and ask for Kelley, say what a hot date she must be.

do this:  video every cop tossing cigs out the window.

Amber Hodges
Amber Hodges

I hope both of these fucks lose their job.

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

Oh god dammit, why did I watch the video? 

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

There is absolutely no reason for the female officer to have put her hands inside the clothing of either suspect.  This to me is an abuse of authority by both police officers.  The purpose of the pat down search is to determine if anything is hidden on the suspect such as weapons or other contraband.  The groin area on both males and females can be effectively searched from the outside.  If something is found, then you search inside the clothing.

Throwing a cigarette butt out the window is about the flimsiest excuse I have ever heard as probable cause to pull over a vehicle.

The last thing said by the original arresting officer was: "Go back to your car and I will write up your warnings."

Obviously, he didn't find any marijuana or any reason to arrest them.

His claim of "I smell marijuana smoke" is the worst of a he said/she said argument that I ever heard.

I wonder how many citations for littering that this officer has ever given?

Never, never, give consent to have your vehicle searched, even if you are squeaky clean.

Maribel McCormack
Maribel McCormack

That cannot be legal. Wow. And, using the same glove for both?? WTH.

Jeffrey Dreer
Jeffrey Dreer

Those freaks need to lose their jobs over that, and the DPS should have to pay those girls a few thousand each for what happened.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Just one more reason smoking cigarettes is bad for you.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

we once were driving back from Waco after a KU Baylor basketball game.  We stopped in Italy for a restroom break.  Some guy in the restroom asks my buddy if he has any speed or coke and my buddy says no but I wish I did.  Well we hop back on the freeway and immediately notice trooper behind us.  He pulls us over along with 1 other trooper 2 sheriffs deputy cars and some Italy police.  They yell at us to get out of the car and sit on the side of the freeway.  They told the driver they were searching his car bc they had probable cause!  When he asked what was the cause because we were not speeding or doing anything illegal and the trooper said that our buddy had solicited an undercover officer in the restroom.  They proceed to empty the car out search the trunk the engine bay and everything and find nothing.  After 2 hrs they finally tell us that they had word a big drug run was coming through and when our buddy said he wished he did have some they thought it was us.  Needless to say, they left us to clean up all the mess they made and sent us on our way

ChrisYu
ChrisYu topcommenter

but they did find the source of that skunky smell

JSSS
JSSS

My experience from having worked for a judge -- here's how virtually every non-radar traffic stop goes.  Cop says I pulled him/her over for (1) changing lanes with signaling, (2) turning without signaling, (3) littering, (4) other bs excuse. The cop then approaches the car and detects the odor of mary jane. The cop then notices the driver/passenger acting nervous. The cop thus concludes that probabl cause exists for a search of the vehicle.  The officer also then is entitled to conduct a "safety" search of the vehicle occupants for weapons. If nothing is found (despite the odor of marijuana and the nervous-acting occupants), you never hear about it. If they do find something, everyone simply overlooks the bogus reasons for the stop and search.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Today body cavity probing.  Tomorrow, Bergen-Belsen.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@Anna_Merlan Same reason you had the seventh shot of tequila the night before you woke up in bed next to DOCensors?

Daniel
Daniel

@KidPunchMusic Unless your new song is called "Painful Cavity Search," your post is off-topic, sir. 

sleezyscoundrel
sleezyscoundrel

@ScottsMerkin Perhaps this so-called "big drug run" drove past while the search was ongoing. Best to search a car with solid evidence than to do so on just a thought.

notmadeomoney
notmadeomoney

@ScottsMerkin I wonder if the big drug run came through during those two hours the cops were busy fucking with you.  How stupid; if y'all were running drugs, you'd have OFFERED TO SELL SOME TO THE TOILETMAN.  What the fuck do these cops think...

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin Well, why the hell did you people say you wish you had speed or coke?  Scotty, that was really stupid.

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

@Montemalone If that had happened, I'd still be carrying the whole bottle around. Crying into it. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@notmadeomoney who knows, it was dumb, in fact so dumb they couldnt bust us for the 30 empty beer cans in the back of the SUV or the 3 empty liquor bottles bc the reason they pulled us over didnt pan out. Otherwise im sure we would have ended up with PI's and Open container tickets.

Funny aside the gas station we stopped at was the same one that loon that wanted to blow up fountain place worked

James080
James080 topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz @ChrisYu  

Ms. Minkoff-Katz - Its not necessary for you to respond to every comment on every thread.  But because you seem determined to do so anyway,  how about filtering some of your comments through your brain before posting.  

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Always with the "more guns" solution with you people.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz @lowery.ken who was looking for trouble, it was a throw away comment.  Kind of like when Im in the bar and I gotta piss so I head to the can to piss and a guy in the bathroom says man you see that hot chick on the corner of the bar id love to get inside of that, and I use the throw away comment "oh hell yeah, I would too" knowing damn well im not going to.  

KenLowery
KenLowery

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz So that makes it OK? I'll go ahead and answer for you: It doesn't.

FFS, please stop blaming victims of the abuse of authority.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

But, being "funny" in a toilet can get you in trouble....

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Anti-Semitism, and White/Aryan elitist theories were quite popular here, and were held by the highest of our intellectual and political elites.  Theory held that Whites were possessed with a Teutonic Gene that made them uniquely suited to self governance, hence the White Man's burden.  Sadly, Bill Kristol and many neo-cons and US policy makers still hold this attitude. 

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

May 12, 1935:

Polish dictator Jozef Pilsudski dies. From here on Jews will experience more antisemitism in Poland. The government and most Polish political parties will call for discrimination, economic boycott, expulsion, and physical violence against Jews. The Polish Catholic Church, most priests, the Catholic press, and schools will sanction discrimination and/or violence against the Jews.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul Since the Poles hated Jews and persecuted them in escalating degrees before the Nazis ever got there, I'd say their goose would be cooked whether they had more guns or not.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Well Myrna, if you play the Holocaust card, I'm going to play the gun card.

Besides, I wonder what the outcome would have been in the Warsaw ghetto if there had been more weapons available.

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