A woman who had her blooded tampon removed by a police officer during a roadside stop in August 2016 could now receive a payout worth $205,000 (£160,000).
40-year-old Natalie Simms had been waiting for her partner on a street in San Antonio, Texas, when a police officer arrived and said he had reason to suspect she was in possession of illegal drugs.
After searching her car, a female officer – ex-Detective Mara Wilson – was then called to search Natalie, proceeded to pull Natalie’s pants down before used a flashlight to look between her legs. This search was completed on the public street, with five male officers close by.
You can find out more about this story in the following news clip:
As reported by INSIDER, Wilson instructed Simms to ‘spread your legs’, asking, ‘do you have anything down here before I reach down here?’
Natalie said she didn’t, but explained she was on her period. At this point, Wilson pulled out Natalie’s tampon, despite knowing she was on her period.
After removing the tampon, Wilson continued with the search, despite Natalie repeatedly telling her she wasn’t hiding anything. As per the lawsuit, she ran her ‘fingers along Natalie’s vaginal lips’ and told her she was ‘very hairy’.
According to the lawsuit filed last year:
Officer Wilson had violated Natalie vaginally, and now it appeared that she might violate Natalie anally. She was doing so without a warrant, with no medical personnel present, and on a public street in view of several people as well as those passing by.
This is INSANE. They pulled a tampon out of a woman's vagina in a cavity search on a public street. https://t.co/EpAkO8fT4Y
— Queen of Thorns (@BullCityVA) October 17, 2019
Natalie was eventually permitted to leave the scene after officers failed to find any drugs on her person.
This week, the city of San Antonio will now vote on a proposed settlement that would award Natalie $205,000. The sum will reportedly be paid from the city’s Self-Assurance Liability Fund.
Natalie’s attorney Dean Malone told INSIDER his client has never received an apology regarding the incident and is still struggling to get over her experience:
I think any male or female to go through what we see as a body cavity search is traumatized and I suspect leads to life long issues.
I don’t think any amount of money will completely restore her dignity that was taken from her on that San Antonio public street.
In Aug 2016 San Antonio TX cop sexually assaults woman on street in full public view. The assault includes forcibly removing her tampon in an illegal search. Natalie Sims lawsuit is here on @Scribd #ReadMore https://t.co/rgBWf1A6FG
— Jill McCorkel (@JillMcCorkel) October 17, 2019
An internal affairs investigators determined Wilson – who retired in May 2017 – hadn’t violated the department’s policies with her actions.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.