Wednesday, August 21, 2002
Board Seeks Sheriff’s Answers on Strip Search of Pregnant Woman
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
The county Board of Supervisors yesterday asked Sheriff Lee Baca to appear at next week’s board meeting to “fill in the details” on why the name of a deputy who conducted an illegal strip search of a pregnant woman has not yet been revealed and why the deputy has not been punished.
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky suggested Baca be invited to the meeting after department representative Cmdr. Neal Tyler could not answer any questions about the search of Brandi Michelle Beaudoin.
Beaudoin was strip searched after being arrested in December 2000 for failing to appear in court for a traffic ticket.
Six months pregnant at the time, Beaudoin was housed with felons and subjected to the strip search at Twin Towers jail even though it is against the law to search someone arrested for a misdemeanor that does not involve a weapon or drugs unless there is a reasonable suspicion the person has those items.
Despite posting bail at 10 p.m. the same day she was arrested, Beaudoin was not released until 5:30 a.m. the next day, according to county documents.
Within one week of being released from custody, Beaudoin claims, she twice went into premature labor and had to be taken to the hospital, where drug injections stopped the labor.
The board approved a $150,000 payment to settle Beaudoin’s claim last month, but first asked the Sheriff’s Department to report on why she was strip searched and who was responsible. When the department returned to the board a week later it stated the investigation had not yet been completed and it did not have the information.
The county counsel report prepared for the Claims Board, which first recommended the settlement, said the department could not confirm or deny the strip search had actually taken place.
“You can answer two questions,” Supervisor Gloria Molina said. “I want to know who it is and when will they be held accountable for an illegal strip search.”
Tyler said he did not know the deputy’s name, but said the department’s investigation into the incident would be wrapped up in the next 60 days. Administrative investigations usually take 90 days, he said.
Tyler’s answer did not satisfy Molina, who berated the commander and the department for continuing to “refuse” to release the deputy’s name.
“Of course, they’ll bring in a new person next week,” Molina commented, adding that the new department representative won’t know anything about yesterday’s discussion.
Molina turned to Yaroslavsky after failing to get any information from Tyler, saying, “Chairman, I think I’m making a very reasonable request.”
Molina suggested the two sheriff’s internal affairs investigators assigned to the case be brought before the board, but Yaroslavsky asked for Baca.
“Well, the sheriff will never show up on this,” Molina said.
An inquiry into the strip search will be on the board agenda every week until the department releases the information, Molina said.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company