Wednesday night began began normally for Florida resident, Lauren Watson. Yet around 11pm, Watson, 19, was pulled over by the police for an infraction involving her license plate being partially covered. The male officer asked Watson for her license and registration. After running her name through the computer system, the officer returned and asked Ms. Watson to step out of the car.
He led Watson, who has no criminal record, to the rear of the vehicle, out of view of the police car’s camera. The officer, working for the Cape Coral Police Department, told Ms. Watson that he needed to pat her down to ensure that she was not carrying any weapons. Watson was told to bend over, placing her palms on the back of the vehicle. The officer then proceeded to lift Ms. Watson’s shirt up to the lower edge of her bra. He then touched Watson on her hips and on her buttocks.
After frisking her, the officer gave Watson a written warning for the license plate, a ticket for not having her driver’s license (her license is valid) upon her person and sent her on her way.
“Police are supposed to be people you look at and trust; he’s using his power in the wrong way.” – Lauren Watson
In most jurisdictions, male police officers are not permitted to physically search females except for in situations where the officer is legitimately concerned for their safety, or when dealing with suspects who are known to be armed. The appropriate procedure for searching a female involves calling a female officer to the scene to conduct the search. Ms. Watson will be filing a formal complaint later today.
The written warning and ticket were signed by an “Officer Chesnut” of the Cape Coral Police Department, a man who now has some explaining to do.