Handheld police video missing in strip search case
The case of an Ohio woman who was arrested for disorderly conduct and forcibly strip-searched by both male and female guards has aroused widespread comment since the release of a police video of the incident.
Hope Steffey is suing the Stark County sheriff's office over her alleged mistreatment, with the video as documentation. However, WKYC News in Cleveland reports that there may have been additional video of Steffey being abused that has been withheld by the police.
The incident began when Steffey was attacked and injured by a relative and another family member called 911. The sheriff's deputy who responded to the call was confused and began treating Steffey as the perpetrator rather than the victim. According to Steffey, he threw her against his car and then picking her up and slamming her back onto the ground.
"Oddly enough," reports WKYC, "the sheriff's dashcam video wasn't turned on while all of this was happening."
Steffey says she was roughed up again in the jail before she was stripped, and there is no video of that, either. However, jailhouse surveillance cameras show a deputy with a handheld camera filming Steffey being escorted to her cell. This raises the possibility that video from both that camera and the sheriff's dashcam do exist but have not been provided to Steffey's lawyers.
Official Stark County policy is that prisoners can only be strip-searched by deputies of the same sex. The sheriff insists that this doesn't apply because Steffey was not strip-searched but was stripped naked for her own protection.
This video is from WKYC News, broadcast February 4, 2008.