Trooper reinstated after illegal body cavity searches

Texas investigators determined that trooper Jennie Bui was only following orders when she performed illegal roadside body cavity searches in May 2012.

A female Texas state trooper accused of performing illegal roadside cavity searches was reinstated last week after investigators determined she was inexperienced and following orders from a senior trooper who ordered the examination.

In the Memorial Day 2012 incident, caught on Trooper Nathaniel Turner's dash cam, 27-year-old Brandy Hamilton and 26-year-old Alexandria Randle were stopped by Turner for speeding near Houston, the Houston Chronicle reported.

According to a lawsuit filed in June by the two women against the Texas Department of Public Safety, Turner requested that a female officer be sent to the scene to perform body cavity searches on the women. Trooper Jennie Bui was dispatched and subsequently executed the searches in plain sight despite cries from Hamilton, who said she felt violated, the suit alleged.

When Bui conducted a cavity search on Randle, she did not change her gloves, according to the suit. No drugs were found during the search, but Turner issued a ticket for possession of drug paraphernalia. Following the incident, Bui was initially fired and Turner was suspended pending further investigation. Recently, however, after a grand jury failed to indict her, Bui was reinstated but placed under suspension without pay for 60 days, the Chronicle reported. Turner has been fired.

Hamilton and Randle's lawsuit nearly coincides with a similar suit filed in December 2012 by two other Texas women who claimed state troopers illegally performed body cavity searches on them in July 2012 in plain sight of passing motorists.

In that incident, dash cam video shows Trooper David Farrell stopping Angel Dobbs, 30, and her niece, Ashley Dobbs, 24, for allegedly throwing cigarette butts out of their car window. Farrell is then heard calling female Trooper Kelley Helleson to the scene because he felt the Dobbses were acting suspiciously. After Farrell questioned the pair about a marijuana smell, Helleson performed cavity searches on them without changing her gloves, the suit claimed. No drugs were found and Angel Dobbs passed a DWI test. The women were issued a warning for littering.

This past June, the Dobbses settled their suit against the Texas Department of Public Safety for $185,000, NBC 5 reported. Helleson has been fired and charged with two counts of sexual assault, the New York Daily News reported. Farrell was indicted on one count of theft involving a bottle of Vicodin missing from Angel Dobbs' purse.

Texas officials have acknowledged that the roadside searches were unconstitutional. According to a statement released by DPS Director Steven McCraw, Texas law enforcement "does not and will not tolerate any conduct that violates the U.S. and Texas constitutions or DPS training or policy."

The DPS now requires that officers sign a statement saying they've familiarized themselves with the department's policy on strip and body cavity searches, the Chronicle reported.

Related: What really happened when police showed up to a home searching for a pressure cooker and backpacks

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