Back in 2015, Charneisha Corley endured a horrific invasion of privacy at the hands of two Harris County Deputies during a traffic stop near Ella and Barren Springs in Texas.
On the night of June 21st, officers pulled over the then-21-year-old and asked her to get out of the car after suggesting marijuana may have been in her vehicle. The woman says, she was then handcuffed and put in the back of a patrol car, as the deputy searched the car for drugs.
When his searched turned up empty, the deputy called for a female deputy to perform a cavity search on Corley, desperate to find the marijuana he thought he smelled. The female officer then told Corley to remove her pants, and that is when things took a turn for the worse.
Corley said, the woman then “force [d] her hand inside” of her, prompting her lawyer to argue sexual assault by police in the charges filed against the officers.
“One of the officers on the tape, was talking to a passenger who was already in custody in the officer’s car and you could hear him telling that individual ‘Oh we are going to find something, even if we have to put our hands on her,” Sam Cammack, Corley’s attorney said.
“This same officer body slammed Miss Corley, stuck her head underneath the vehicle and completely pulled her pants off, leaving her naked and exposed in the Texaco parking lot,” he added. “They then took Miss Corley and placed both ankles behind her ears spread eagle position and started to search for something in Miss Corley’s cavity in her vaginal area” which when on for at least 11 minutes before Corley could get up and cover herself.
Ultimately, the former deputies William Strong and Ronaldine Pierre were indicted on charges of official oppression, as the trial was scheduled for early August. However, the very day of its scheduled commencement, prosecutors under District Attorney Kim Ogg dismissed the case against the officers to re-present the evidence to a different grand jury. That group then decided that there were insufficient grounds for criminal charges, dismissing the case all together.
“We discovered new and significant evidence that we felt an absolute duty to re-present to a Grand Jury. Based on that evidence I would have to assume, because we presented everything. We looked at everything fairly and thoroughly and we re-presented the case and I would assume based on what they heard they decided to no-bill the cases,” Assistant DA, head of the Civil Rights division said.
On the other hand, Cammack believes that there is no “new evidence” but is eager to get justice for Corley. Therefore, he says he will release the entire 11-minute dash cam video of the cavity search.
“When the public sees the video, I think they will be disgusted, appalled and outraged that a police officer would be able to do this to a citizen, anybody in this County, anywhere in the United States. It was terrible,” Cammack said, revealing that all criminal charges against Corley were dropped.
As a result of the gross misconduct, Corley has filed a $15 million suit, claiming that the financial exposure and re-presentation of the case has a connection to the dismissed case.
In the meantime, Strong and Pierre have been ordered to desk duty as their career remains under review.
“No one in this office stands by the search the way it was conducted. No one condones that. No one thinks it’s appropriate. It should not have happened. However bad decisions, bad judgment may not rise to the level of a criminal offense,” Assistant DA Natasha Sinclair said.