Recently a lawsuit was filed in federal court concerning an invasive search by police officers. Thankfully it doesn’t concern the Sacramento area directly, but being a federal case, it could have an impact nationwide. Police in New Castle Pennsylvania are accused of a terrible violation of human rights normally seen in third world dictatorships. With the increase in police militarization and the growing divide between law enforcers and citizens, it isn’t hard to imagine this brazen disregard for human dignity in any police department in the U.S. When you are accused of a crime, don’t expect police to stop until they find something, anything, to charge you with. In the eyes of law enforcers, violation of civil rights is justified if it results in a conviction, no matter how trivial.
Officially, Kimberlee Rae Carbone was pulled over for improper use of her turn signal. The real reason for the stop was that her passenger entered an apartment briefly before reentering her vehicle. The turn signal violation was simply a pretext to search for drugs. Both Carbone and her passenger denied having any drugs then invoked her right to remain silent. The police officers claim to have smelled burnt marijuana; again, regardless of the presence or absence of any smell, the police can claim there was a smell as a pretext to search. There are no repercussions for officers who “smell” marijuana or alcohol as an excuse to search.
The search of the vehicle and occupants failed to reveal any drugs, putting the officers in a difficult situation. They could allow the suspects to leave, or they could continue the investigation at the county jail. Of course they transported Carbone to the jail where they performed an intrusive body cavity search. Despite Carbone’s hysteric cries that she was not concealing anything, police continued to probe. At one point, both officers claim to have seen evidence that she was concealing drugs despite never actually finding those drugs. Of course, the next step was get a professional with better eyesight to continue the investigation.
Police took Carbone to Jameson Hospital to be examined by Dr. Geiser. Despite Carbone’s refusal of any treatment, Dr. Geiser and the officers all agreed that she needed treatment “for a possible overdose, rectal packing and/or oral intake of a controlled substance.” After being strapped to a table, another body cavity search by the doctor failed to reveal any drugs. Carbone then urinated under observation; her urine was taken, and you guessed it, this failed to reveal any drugs.
After two more body cavity searches and a vaginal swab test, Carbone was finally discharged. She returned to the hospital several times over the same week and was diagnosed with a sprained wrist, and sought treatment for pain related to her cavity searches. A psychologist subsequently treated her for “nightmares, mood disorder, difficulty sleeping, decreased intimacy, depression, and anxiety.”
Given the inability of the police to find even a trace of evidence against Carbone and their inhumane treatment of her, I wasn’t surprised to read that she has filed suit against everyone involved in this torture. This is why I fight for my clients. Police regularly overstep their authority over the citizens of this country. I feel that fighting in court, (and winning,) is one of the few ways that ordinary people like you and me can assert ourselves against local tyrants. I wish Ms. Carbone well and hope she has a fast recovery from this awful experience.
Thanks to reason.com for bringing this case to my attention.