EVANSVILLE, Ind. (Legal Newsline) - Four individuals are suing Floyd County, Ind., after they claim their constitutional rights were violated when the Sheriff's Department stripped and tortured them after their arrests.
Tabitha Gentry, Vincent Minton, Michael Herron and Adam Walker claim they were stripped and given a small blanket that was called a "smock" that did not adequately cover their bodies while they were left in padded cells at Floyd County Jail.
The plaintiffs claim there are potentially hundreds of other former inmates who have been incarcerated at Floyd County Jail who faced similar treatment by Floyd County, Ind., Floyd County Sheriff Darrell Mills, Tiffany Frans, Officer Atherton, Ryan Rainey and other unknown officers of the Floyd County Sheriff's Department, according to a complaint filed June 12 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.
The officers forcibly removed the plaintiffs' clothes and left them without clothing for prolonged periods of time while they did not pose any security threat to warrant such treatment, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs claim the defendants deprived them of their rights under the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
"The abuse to which plaintiffs and the class were subjected... were part of a continuing patterns of misconduct and were the result of defendant's written policies or procedures and/or unwritten customs and practices that are systematically applied to arrestees/detainees," the complaint states.
The plaintiffs claim the defendants' conduct also violated concomitant rights guaranteed by the Constitution and common laws of Indiana.
As a result of the defendants' failure to train the officers, the officers violated the plaintiffs' constitutional rights, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs claim officers regularly exposed detainees' naked bodies to officers of the opposite sex and withheld clothing while in view of jail employees or through video surveillance.
The plaintiffs were also subjected to "offensive touching" and excessive uses of force during and after their clothing was removed, according to the suit.
Gentry - who was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication, disorderly conduct and resisting law enforcement - was stripped and left naked in the padded cell for five hours, she claims.
Minton was arrested for public intoxication, intimidation and disorderly conduct. He was also placed in a padded cell, where he was stripped and left naked, he says. While he was naked, an officer struck him with a taser on his buttocks, he says.
Herron, who was arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct, was also placed in the padded cell, he says. He claims officers removed his clothing and provided him with a smock. However, the smock did not adequately cover his body and after approximately six hours, he was given his street clothes and was booked and released, he says.
Walker was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and was taken to the jail for a Breathalizer test, he says. Walker claimed he argued with an officer who winked at him, at which time he was handcuffed, tased and choked until he lost consciousness.
While being taken to the padded cell, Walker woke up and noticed his clothes were removed, he says. After approximately 18 hours, he was given a jail jumpsuit to wear and a mat to sleep on, according to the suit.
All four plaintiffs were forced to urinate into a drain in the floor of the padded cell, as they were not provided with bathroom facilities, he says.
Walker also claimed to see another man undergo stripping by officers who pulled the man's feet from under him so that he landed headfirst on the floor and knocked out teeth.
The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are being represented by Laura E. Landenwich and Daniel J. Canon of Clay Daniel Walton & Adams PLC.
In September, another woman named Ashley Storms sued the county after she claimed she was also undressed, tased and left naked in a cell for eight hours. The suit was also filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.
The lawsuit was settled out of court for an unknown sum of money on June 17.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana case number: 4:14-cv-00054
From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.