An attorney in Texas has released a dashcam video that he says shows sheriff's deputies forcibly searching a woman's vagina for 11 minutes on the side of a road.
Sam Cammack released the video of his client, Charnesia Corley, on Monday after charges filed against two Harris County sheriff's deputies involved in the search were dropped, calling the body cavity search “rape by cop.”
The video stems from a June 2015 traffic stop in which the sheriff's deputies said they smelled marijuana on Corley and demanded a body search, Cammack, told BuzzFeed News.
Corley — a 20-year-old college student at the time — had been pulled over for allegedly running a stop sign. But after not finding marijuana in the car, deputies instructed Corley to remove her pants in order to conduct a body-cavity search in the parking lot where she was pulled over, according to a 2016 lawsuit filed against Harris County, claiming her constitutional rights were violated.
When Corley protested against being searched, “deputies forcibly threw Ms. Corley to the ground, while she was still handcuffed, pinned her down with her legs spread apart, threatened to break her legs, and without consent penetrated her vagina in a purported search for marijuana,” the lawsuit, which remains ongoing, states.
“She pulled my pants down, and then told me to bend over,” Corley told CNN in 2015. “So, you know, I kind of hesitated…so I bent over, and she proceeded to stick her fingers in me.”
One of the deputies can be heard in the video telling a passenger who was already in custody, “Oh, we are going to find something, even if we have to put our hands on her.”
Corley was charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana and resisting arrest. But Cammack told BuzzFeed News the officers never found marijuana on Corley, and the charges were eventually dropped.
The grainy video, in which Corley is partially blocked by a car door, does not show the alleged penetration, but it does show her on the ground for about 11 minutes.
Two of the three deputies involved in the incident were charged with official oppression — intentionally subjecting someone to mistreatment or to arrest — but the charges were dismissed earlier this month.
A lawyer for one of the deputies said the full dashcam video — which is reported to be two hours long — clears the deputies of any wrongdoing.
“Deputies can't pick and choose what laws to enforce,” attorney Robin McIlhenny said. “She was never penetrated; she was never violated in that way or inappropriately handled.”
The Division of Civil Rights chief for the district attorney's office, Natasha Sinclair, told BuzzFeed News she “bent over backwards” to protect Corley and her privacy.
“There's nothing about me that looks at the video and thinks it's OK,” she said.
Sinclair said that charges were dismissed after “new evidence” was presented that she felt she had an ethical duty to present to a new grand jury. The second grand jury decided to not bring charges against the officers.
Sinclair, as well as a spokesperson for the district attorney's office, said state laws prevent them from commenting on what the new evidence was.
Still, Cammack said he decided to release the video in an effort to help prevent a similar incident from happening again.
“The only reason I released the video was for Ms. Corley,” Cammack told BuzzFeed News. “I released it so no female has to endure something like this ever again.”
Cammack added that he has called for an independent prosecutor to investigate the case.
“The most important thing out of this is to give the public insight into what happened,” Cammack said. “This woman went through something horrific. I haven't seen anything like it.”