Civil Suit Alleging Illegal Police Strip Search Centers On Video

February 06, 2010|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,

On the second day of testimony in a civil suit accusing Baltimore police officers of falsifying evidence and conducting illegal strip searches, a video was played Friday in city Circuit Court that was supposed to support the allegations. But so far, the defense is using it to make its case.

Attorney Joseph Spicer, who represents defendants Allen Adkins and Sean Dallesandro, suggested to jurors that the video showed plaintiff Shaketa Causey possibly discarding drugs and returning from the bathroom of the Raven House bar after completing a narcotics sale.

If true, that backs up Adkins' story. The plaintiffs say it isn't so.

In charging documents, Adkins said he saw sisters Shaketa and Jennell Causey dealing drugs from the back of the Brooklyn bar, and later witnessed Shaketa Causey tossing a bag of drugs. But the sisters claim that Adkins, a sergeant, lied to justify unconstitutional strip searches of the sisters.

Their lawyers say the video shows that Shaketa Causey, 24, never threw anything and was the victim of planted contraband. And in their interpretation, Jennell Causey, 28, did nothing, according to the video, to warrant a strip search that left her with a split lip after officers allegedly slammed her to the ground.

Drugs were found hidden in Jennell Causey's body cavity. The plaintiffs say they were removed by a male officer, though Spicer denies that any men touched her. A female officer who searched the women is expected to testify later in the trial.

The video thus far doesn't seem to lean strongly to one side. It shows the view from four cameras and verifies that all the parties were there and that the Causeys were arrested.

The charges, drug possession with the intent to distribute, were later dropped by the Baltimore state's attorney's office, which determined Adkins was not reliable as a witness after an independent investigation concluded that he might have lied before.

City State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy barred Adkins from being called to testify on any cases and dropped those that relied on his word, including the Causeys'. He was not charged with any related offenses, however, and was reassigned within the department; he is no longer an arresting officer.

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