I love you Texas. I really do. You’re gorgeous. There are literally thousands of things to do here. Fort Worth and Austin are amazing towns. Then there are the little places like Spicewood, where Willie Nelson’s ranch is, with all this peace, creativity, beauty, music and art that make me wonder if I’m even still in Texas.
Lately though, I’ve wanted to punch you in the throat. Governor Rick Perry? Don’t even get me started. The cutting of education funding so we rank 49th in spending on public schools? I could write a book. The closing of 42 healthcare clinics in the name of saving the unborn? Yes, because less access to healthcare is going to save more lives, born or unborn.
With the previously mentioned though, I can at least look through the eyes of those on the other side of the aisle. Most of them have honorably reached their conclusions regardless of whether or not I agree with them (and I fundamentally disagree on many, many things). Random vaginal and rectal probes on the side of the road though? You can’t be serious, Texas, so you must be drunk.
In July 2012, Angel Dobbs, 38 and her niece, Ashley, 24, were on their way to Oklahoma when they were pulled over outside of Dallas by the Texas Highway Patrol. The reason trooper David Farrell pulled them over that Friday night was for throwing cigarette butts out the window. They hadn’t done so, but didn’t argue. He then grilled them with questions – Where are you going? Who are you going to see? Why is your niece in the car?
Suddenly Farrell determined he smelled marijuana. Angel and Ashley both argued that. He requested their IDs and then went to his patrol car for 25 minutes, leaving the women to wonder what could be taking so long.
When he returned he ordered them both out of the car and into the roadside field. More questions were asked – Do have anything in your socks, your shoes, your underwear. He also informed them that a female backup officer was on the way. When trooper Kelley Hellenson arrived, the women protested, saying the situation was ridiculous and that they had done nothing wrong. They were told to shut up and turn around.
The dash cam video shows both women taking their turn standing in front of Farrell’s patrol car while Hellenson give them a pat down, including putting her hand down the front and back of their pants. This is the part where both women state that they were penetrated both virginally and rectally, a claim that the trooper’s attorney denies.
“They didn’t even search my socks or my shoes, “Angel said. “I just couldn’t fathom how you could search someone’s butt and their vagina, and not search their socks or shoes.”
After finding nothing and passing a field sobriety test the women were let go with a written warning for littering. A cavity search. For allegedly littering.
Isolated incident? I wish.
Alexandra Randle and Brandy Hamilton were pulled over for speeding by trooper Nathaniel Turner on Memorial Day in 2012 on their way home from Surfside Beach near Houston. Upon approaching the vehicle Turner said that he smelled marijuana and ordered Hamilton out of the car. In the near perfect quality of the audio from the dash cam, you can hear Hamilton ask is she can put a dress on because she was wearing a swimsuit. Turner told her not to worry about that and come on out.
When asked if they had drugs on them or in the car, the women mentioned they had cigars, but nothing else.
“Is there anything in your bra or underwear?” Turner asked Hamilton.
She replies no and Turner calls for Trooper Jennie Bui to search the women because he “ain’t about to get up close and personal with your woman areas.”
Hamilton is handcuffed, bent over the patrol car’s passenger seat on the side of the highway and probed. Randle was next, and the dash cam catches her horrifying screams.
The Department of Public Safety fired Bui on June 29. Turner has been suspended. Helleson and Turner were both on criminal charges by a Dallas County Grand Jury. Hellenson was fired and Turner has been suspended. Lawsuits were filed in both cases and one has already settled. Obviously everyone is well aware that these troopers did something very, very wrong so despite how horrifying these two stories are, case closed, right?
That two nearly identical incidents happened on opposite ends of a state that is the size of a country is unfortunately not a coincidence. Attorney Allie Booker, who represents Hamilton and Randle, has received multiple phone calls from other women who were subjected to cavity searches and who were also ultimately found to have done nothing wrong – and she is expecting more.
So Texas – this indicates a pattern or plan of some sort. I’d really like to know who constructed it, because whoever that person is – they did not reach their conclusions honorably and we all deserve to know who it was.