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Dashcam Footage Released Of Cops Pushing A Woman Under Her Car And Probing Her For 11 Minutes Because They Thought They Smelled Marijuana

Photo: Sergiy Tryapitsyn / 123RF
Dashcam Footage Released Of Cops Pushing A Woman Under Her Car And Probing Her Vagina For 11 Minutes Because They Thought They Smelled Marijuana

In 2015, Charnesia Corley was pulled over in Texas for running a red light. At the time, she was 21 years old, enrolled in college and had no criminal record.

An officer for the Harris County Sheriff's department said he smelled marijuana. She was asked to step out of her vehicle, was handcuffed and escorted to the back of his patrol car so he could conduct a search. 

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After looking through her car multiple times, he came up empty. When he returned to Corley, he said the smell was now coming from inside his vehicle, which led him to believe she had something on her.

He called for a female deputy to search Corley. The female officer told her to pull her pants down, and when Corley said she didn't have any underwear on, the officer said, "that doesn't matter."

She admitted to hesitating, but complying, recalling, "I bend over and she proceeds to try to force her hand inside of me. I tell her, 'Ma'am, No. You cannot do this.'"

That's when one of the officers said she was resisting, and in the dimly lit parking lot where she was being held at 10:30 PM, she threw Corley to the ground, pushed her partially underneath her own car, and yanked her pants to her ankles. 

A dash cam video shows the officers searching Corley for 11 minutes.

She said she was repeatedly probed by fingers in her vagina and that her protests were ignored. A third officer even stood nearby, holding a flashlight. 

Photo: Harris County Sheriff's Office

No drugs were found on her, but she was still charged with two misdemeanors of resisting arrest and possession of marijuana. Those charges were dropped two months after the incident, and prosecutors issued a statement that called the search "offensive and shocking." 

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But not offensive enough to charge the officers or at least fire them from their jobs. 

"It is undoubted that they sexually assaulted her," said Corley's lawyer, Sam Cammack. "They put their fingers inside her vagina. You can't pull someone over, think you might find something, and do that to them."

The officers who conducted the search were arrested in June of 2016 on charges of official oppression, but the charges were dropped not long after.

A prosecutor told a local TV station that while no one at the district attorney's office stands by what happened, the officers use of "bad judgemental" might not rise to the level of a criminal offense. 

They also said the charges were dropped due to new evidence that hadn't been released to the public because it was presented in front of a grand jury, and those proceedings are secret. 

The officers are currently still employed and were last known to have been placed on administrative duty. The search violated the federal Constitution, state law, and Harris County Sheriff's Office protocol.

"I feel like they sexually assaulted me," said Corley. "I really do. I feel disgusted, downgraded, humiliated."

In 2018, Harris County agreed to pay $185,000 to settle the lawsuit that Corley had filed, which had contended that her constitutional rights were violated. 

The first assistant county attorney, Robert Soard, said, "Certainly, the county is not admitting any liability by paying that amount. But it seemed to be a reasonable thing to do based on what we knew at the time and what we still know."

The settlement closed the case, but Corley's attorney said that she had deserved more and he had felt pressured during negotiations for the settlement. 

He said, "We felt like it was best thing to do for Ms. Corley. We felt we were about to end up with zero. We're disgusted with the process and how it all turned out." 

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Emily Blackwood is a freelance writer, editor and journalist who covers small business, pop culture, travel, health and wellness.

Editor's Note: This article was originally posted on August 17, 2017 and was updated with the latest information.