An Indiana woman plans to sue the Floyd County Jail in New Albany following her lawyer obtaining a video of police officers forcibly undressing her and locking her up, completely naked, in a cell full of pepper spray for seven hours.
The woman’s attorney said that it may be a routine procedure at the facility and that she has proof that other women are consistently given the same treatment.
On March 30, Tabitha Gentry, a mother of four, was detained by a police officer for disorderly conduct and resisting law enforcement, both misdemeanor charges.
She was then booked at the Floyd County Jail and, her attorney stated, grabbed around the neck. Her body was grabbed as well.
“They hold her down,” lawyer Laura Landenwich said as cited by the local news station WDRB. “There are two male officers and two female officers and they forcibly remove her pants, her shoes, her underwear and her shirt and bra.”
After that, the terrified woman apparently started banging on the door. Someone came to the door, threatening to pepper spray her if she didn’t “shut up,” a threat they apparently carried out, spraying the room.
"Terrified and humiliated, she's banging on the door asking someone to give her [back] her clothing and someone comes to the door and says, 'If you don't shut up, I'm going to pepper spray you,' and sure enough, they open the door, spray pepper spray into the room and they leave - and they leave her in there for 40 minutes, naked, in a cell filled with pepper spray."
Then the cops allowed Gentry out of her cell to wash off the chemicals, parading her through the whole station. She was left naked in the cell for five more hours afterwards, according to the lawyer.
“Now this is a woman, who under our system of law, is innocent until proven guilty. She’s charged and she’s charged with a misdemeanor crime that’s not a violent crime,” Landenwich stressed.
The attorney also underlined that it appears to be standard procedure at the facility.
“What we also see on the video is there is another inmate also being held naked prior to her entering that cell,” Landenwich told WDRB. “These are egregious constitutional violations.”
Furthermore, it is not the first time such allegations have been made against the jail.
Two years ago, another woman named Ashley Storms was allegedly undressed by sheriff’s deputies, then tased and left naked in a cell for eight hours.
That case was eventually settled out of court for a sum of money that wasn’t revealed.
However, the Floyd County Sheriff told journalists that the officers at the facility “don’t strip search” inmates as a policy.
He added that he believes in this case his officers acted appropriately and that no jail policies were breached.