Pasadena, CA – Police released dashcam video on Tuesday from a 2016 traffic stop that disproved claims by a mother and daughter who said they were sexually assaulted by the officers who frisked them (video below).
Sharell Thompson and her daughter, Sharaya Brown, filed a lawsuit in April that asked for more than $25 million in damages for the alleged violation of their civil rights by Pasadena police officers during a traffic stop at Altadena Drive and Foothill Boulevard on May 2, 2016, the Pasadena Star-News reported.
Police were following the vehicle because they believed it contained evidence from a crime, and then they stopped the car for a traffic violation, Pasadena Police Lieutenant Jason Clawson told reporters.
Lt. Clawson said nothing was found in the women’s vehicle, and they were not arrested or given a ticket, the Pasadena Star-News reported.
In their lawsuit, the women claimed that Officer Brendan Thebea ordered Thompson to lift her shirt, forcing her to expose her breasts.
The suit also claimed the other officer, identified only as “Officer Carey,” used his bare hands to rub between Brown’s legs near her crotch, and that he put his hands in Brown’s front and back pockets and reached inside the back of her pants, the Pasadena Star-News reported.
Acting Pasadena Police Public Information Officer Lisa Derderian said the video showed the allegations in the lawsuit were "baseless" and "unsubstantiated,” according to KNBC.
“We are reacting to false allegations,” Derderian said. “The officers’ actions are professional. They had a kind demeanor when talking to them. We’re fortunate to have the video.”
In the video, one officer can be seen checking a woman for weapons on the sidewalk.
She lifted her shirt up above the waist of her leggings to show the officer her waistband, but at no point did she ever lift her shirt above her bra, contradicting the lawsuit’s claims
"The claims on which the lawsuit rests are easily proven false," Derderian said. "Pasadena Police Department patrol officers initiated a traffic stop based upon a detective investigation and traffic violation witnessed by police. As per department policies and procedures, the officers remained professional the entire time, assessed the situation, speaking with the individuals and conducting appropriate and necessary searches of the individuals -- a waist-band check for weapons -- and of the vehicle. After the vehicle and individuals were searched and questioned, they were free to leave the scene.”
The video also showed the other officer taking the driver out of the car and searching her, and disproved allegations that he had put his hands in her pockets or touched her between her legs.
“When the police department received a personnel complaint, a thorough review of the incident was undertaken per department policy. The in-car camera footage from the patrol car clearly shows that the officers acted appropriately,” Derderian said.
The city released the video on Tuesday morning as a preemptive measure ahead of a planned press conference by Thompson and Brown that was scheduled for Tuesday evening.
After the video was released, the women’s attorney, Dakar Diourbel, cancelled the press conference and released a statement accusing the city of editing the dashcam video.
“Also, corroborating evidence, such as the police unit’s ‘call history’ and any police body-cam footage, has not been produced to date. Furthermore, this version of the video does not contain many of the indications of an authentic police, dash-cam video, such as, time/date stamp, ambient audio, dialogue from the officers, voices of the subjects of the traffic stop, traffic noise, police sirens, etc. Thus, we look forward to viewing a copy of the original police dash-cam video from this encounter,” Diourbel said.
“For these reasons, we are unsure of the extent to which the video released today was ‘doctored’ to give an appearance of a less intrusive search. However, we look forward to the results of any forensic video analysis which should shed light on these perceived discrepancies,” he said.
But the police department was quick to put the kibosh on those allegations.
“The only modification of video of the incident was the intentional blurring of the license plate number of the vehicle, done only to protect the involved individuals,” Derderian said in the statement. “Because the incident occurred in 2016, it was prior to the implementation of body-worn cameras on Pasadena police officers. The City of Pasadena stands by the truth.”
There was no audio with the dashcam video; however, police released audio from one of the officer’s personal recording devices, the Pasadena Star-News reported.
That audio captured Thompson arguing with police about their search procedures, and saying she was embarrassed to be searched because she was a school principal in Pasadena.
“It’s embarrassing. This is embarrassing. I work in this community, I have two jobs,” Thompson said in the recording.
You can watch the traffic stop in the video below: