[8/15/17] Charnesia Corley was a 21-year-old college student with no criminal record when two cops from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office stopped her in June 2015 for running a red light.
After searching her car, police claimed to have found .02 ounces of marijuana. That was enough, they apparently felt, to justify a full-body cavity search. When Corley refused to remove her clothes in the dimly lit parking lot where she was being detained, one of the officers threw her to the ground, pushed her partially underneath her own car, and yanked Corley’s pants down to her ankles. For the next 11 minutes, dash cam video of the incident shows, she was held down by two officers while being searched. Corley claims that fingers repeatedly probed her vagina and that the officers ignored her protests. A third officer stood nearby holding a flashlight. No drugs were found on Corley person.
Sam Cammack, an attorney representing Corley in a multi-million-dollar civil rights lawsuit against the county, calls the search “rape by cop.”
“It is undoubted that they sexually assaulted her,” Cammack says. “They put their fingers inside her vagina. You can’t pull someone over, think you might find something, and do that to them.”
The full dash-cam video was released to the Houston Chronicle and can be viewed here. It appears to confirm Corley’s side of the story, showing officers putting her in handcuffs, tossing her to the ground, removing her pants, and spending several long minutes searching her body.
Two of the officers who conducted the search, William Strong and Ronaldine Pierre, were indicted in June 2016 by a Harris County grand jury on charges of official oppression, but those charges were dropped last week.
“These officers did commit a crime, and now it appears they are not being held accountable for their actions,” says Cammack, who wants an independent prosecutor assigned to the case. He says he plans to release dash-cam video of the traffic stop to the media in the hopes of generating enough public outcry to force the county to reopen the case with a new prosecutor.
Corley and Cammack appeared on CNN last night to tell their side of the story to host Don Lemon.