Worse Than The Disease: Law Enforcement Officers Committing Sexual Violence In The Line Of Duty

from the criminals-on-both-sides-of-the-line dept

Maybe all these politicians and activists who want tough-on-crime leadership are looking at the wrong side of the thin blue line. The cure is worse than the disease, as the saying goes, and these officers seem to be going out of their way to prove that adage.

First up, following on the heels of the multiple rectal violations committed by a New Mexico doctor at the behest of police officers in search of drugs that just weren’t there is this story, which features more New Mexico law enforcement members violating someone’s lower regions — again, in search of drugs.

Cops in New Mexico repeatedly sprayed a woman’s vagina with mace after she was arrested for drugs. They allegedly did this to “punish” her.

The woman, Marlene Tapia, was taken to the Metropolitan Detention Center after her arrest. Next, officers stripped her to search for drugs. They made her bend over and then claimed she had a plastic bag containing drugs in her vagina.

Officers should have subsequently had medical staff remove the bag from Tapia — but they did not do this.

Instead, officers “punished” the woman by spraying her vagina with mace. They allegedly did this several times in a row.

To be clear, these were corrections officers at a detention center, not police officers. Tapia apparently actually had a baggie of drugs inserted in her vagina, but as is pointed out in the lawsuit, spraying her with mace wasn’t going to dislodge it, and she wasn’t offering the officers any resistance. As is also pointed out, corrections officers are supposed to refer anyone they suspect of hiding drugs to the medical center for examination. Obviously, they do things differently in New Mexico, especially if the “problem area” happens to be below the waist.

There is little doubt this incident actually occurred. According to the filing, the officer (Blanca Zapater) was both instructed to stop spraying mace on Tapia’s genitals by her supervisor and was later punished for her actions. Tapia is now seeking damages and court fees for Zapater’s clearly stupid actions.

This next case is much, much worse on every level, further underscoring the fact that those charged with enforcing laws often seem to be at least as dangerous as those who break them.

A 40-year-old police officer in San Antonio, Texas is facing charges of felony sexual assault after a 19-year-old woman accused him of handcuffing and raping her during a traffic stop over the weekend.

According to an arrested warrant obtained by the San Antonio Express-News, Officer Jackie Len Neal pulled over the teen, telling her that her car was reported stolen.

Even though the woman produced a sales slip for the vehicle, Neal insisted on patting her down. The woman told him she felt uncomfortable with the pat down and asked for a female officer, but he ignored her, the warrant said. The woman was allegedly groped, placed in handcuffs and then taken to the back of his patrol car.

Neal was accused of raping the woman and instructing her to keep it a secret.

Neal’s dashboard cam and mike weren’t working as his system was missing its hard drive. This fact Neal would have been aware of, according to his police chief, William McManus. The car’s GPS system confirmed that Neal’s patrol car was parked at this location for 18 minutes.

Neal’s past is checkered with other abuse.

McManus confirmed that Neal had been suspended in September for dating an 18-year-old, who had joined the Police Explorer program in preparation for a law enforcement career. He had also been accused of sexual assault while on duty several years earlier, but the woman refused to cooperate with a police investigation and the charges were dropped.

This may not be the end of it either. McManus must suspect his officer is a habitual offender as he’s made a call for other victims to come forward. The lack of criminal charges preceding this event likely kept McManus from unloading an officer he felt was problematic. That it culminated in an alleged rape before being corrected is an indictment of the system itself.

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Worse Than The Disease: Law Enforcement Officers Committing Sexual Violence In The Line Of Duty”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

Punishment and discipline

?Woman claims officer sprayed mace on genitals?, by Ryan Luby, KOB Eyewitness News 4, November 22, 2013

?.?.?. Instead, an officer ?punished? the woman by spraying her vagina with mace. That officer, Blanca Zapater, allegedly did this several times in a row.?.?.?.

Staff at the Metropolitan Detention Center declined to comment on the case, but confirmed that the Zapater is still on staff after she was hired in November 2008.

According to the lawsuit, Zapater was disciplined for the situation involving Tapia.?.?.?.

Punishment and discipline.

Geno0wl (profile) says:

Guess they run their in car video different than us

I work Tech support for a major metro department.
In our cars there keys to the bay that only the Admin Sgt has, and no way for officers to manually delete videos without admin credentials(which we give NOBODY outside of our staff).
We do that for the simple obvious reason, to curb abuse.
Now they could still turn off the system(and it can not be turned off while their lights are on). But at least it is one barrier of “proof”.
The new system we are working on actually will have a built in “buffer” that automatically records everything(video only) even in “idle” mode as long as the car is on. It would automatically overwrite, but that days at least a day to happen.
We have/are putting in place items to curb abuse, shame more places don’t take these obvious steps to do the same.

Geno0wl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Guess they run their in car video different than us

uh no
my paycheck comes from the City payroll “pool”, therefore I am paid directly by taxpayers.
And, at least from my perspective, the current environment here is actually rather healthy.
No fighting against filming by citizens, very strong IIS that has actually filed charges against three officers in the past couple years, and my biggest complaint about any particular officer is that they are lazy and not a bully or anything like that.

not to say there have never been problems, in fact the Department was in a heap load of problems over 10 years ago. But because of that the leaders changed and the culture shifted.
You are right you can never stop people who are truly willing to block the camera, or pull the cable, or whatever. But at least here that type of thing isn’t taken lightly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Guess they run their in car video different than us

?When Did ?To Serve & Protect? Become ?To Seize & Profit?? ?, by Jesse Lava and Sarah Solon, The Nation, October 29, 2013

? [I]t?s not just happening in Philadelphia; it?s happening nationwide to people?s houses, cars, cash and other property that cops seize and sell to make money for their departments.?

Money that cops generate from such seizures bankroll their departments, and sometimes even fund their own salaries. That gives police a strong incentive to abuse civil asset forfeiture laws, search people unconstitutionally, engage in racial profiling and over-enforce minor offenses, needlessly increasing people?s contact with the criminal justice system. The more they seize, the better off their departments are.?

Something is deeply wrong here. When incentives are this out of whack, abuse ensues?encouraging law enforcement to put profit above public safety.?

Get an honest job.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...