Woman Cavity Searched with Niece During Roadside Stop By Police in Texas Fighting Back with House Bill 4071
Share this with your friends
The Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers has shown up on Ladybud Magazine’s radar the past few years for what seems to be accepted mode of behavior for criminal violation when it comes to roadside body cavity searches. Time and time again, we have seen DPS in Texas brought to court by citizens pulled over and victimized for fruitless searches of the lower body cavities of innocent drivers. Angel Dobbs was searched in 2012 back to front without a change of gloves between her and her niece by a female officer who was called in by male Trooper David Farrell to basically sexually assault these women in full view of passing drivers and passengers with Farrell’s headlights on them the entire time.
Since the incident, Angel and her niece received a settlement of $185,000 in a federal civil rights case. Three years later, Angel is working with legislators on House Bill 4071, which will require that a peace officer obtain a search warrant before conducting a body cavity search.
At the end of this interview are the contact numbers for Texas government officials. Please contact your Representatives and Senators, inform them about the issue, and explain to them that it needs to be legislative priority. House Bill 4071 is currently at the Calendars Committee and needs support with people calling to ask it be sent for a floor vote by May 14th 2015.
LADYBUD: On July 13, 2012 you were traveling with your niece in Texas and were pulled over in the Dallas area. What did you suppose was about to transpire? You probably expected a ticket and nothing else, right?
ANGEL DOBBS: When we saw the lights come on behind us, I looked over at my niece with confusion. We were both wearing our safety belts and I was not speeding. We had no idea why we were being pulled over. Only when we pulled over and I questioned Trooper Farrell for the reason we were stopped — that’s when he accused us of littering. When I politely informed him that I did not litter, his whole demeanor changed. He was very sick with a head cold as well, so I tried leaning away from him as much as possible so I would not catch his flu. He did not take kindly to me saying that I did not litter, and his reply was, “This is going to go a lot easier on you if you tell the truth.”
He took my drivers license and returned to the the squad car, along with my niece’s state identification card issued in Illinois and returned back to the car approximately 20 minutes later, asking me to exit the vehicle, and bombarding me with questions as to who my niece was, why she was with me, asking about her parents and where they were and then asks how much marijuana is in the vehicle. I’m quite taken back by him asking me all this, as I am not a marijuana smoker, and I clearly stated that to him. He then asks me if I had anything on my person. I asked him what that meant and he says, “You know, in your underwear? Your socks? Your shoes?” Completely taken back again by his reply, I laugh in dismay and say “No.” To me, that was just an absurd question. I also replied, “You’re treating me like a criminal right now and I’m so not.”
He disregards my reply and says he has a female trooper en route to look into this further.
LADYBUD: When you were awaiting the female officer to arrive, what kind of thoughts were running through your mind?
ANGEL DOBBS: I honestly had no idea why he needed a female officer. Even any type of backup for that matter, as I have absolutely no criminal history or even speeding tickets on record. I’m certainly of no threat to the officer.
LADYBUD: When you were told the cavity searches were going to happen, how hard was it to comply?
ANGEL DOBBS: This is a big misconception with the public — we were never told we were going to be cavity searched. I was called from the field to stand in front of the squad car. First, I noticed the female officer had a blue glove under her arm and was placing the other on her hand, and I asked her, “What are they for?”
She disregarded my question and asked if she had permission to search my person. Again, I asked, “What does that mean? Why do you have gloves?”
She tried to say she was going to go around my bra and around my waistband while making patting gestures with her hands.
Again, as I am watching her put on the other glove, I’m not complying to anything and asking her why she had the gloves. She refuses to answer the question and was clearly growing agitated that I kept asking.
Logically thinking, my mind is flashing to what happens in movies and TV shows, and I thought, “It’s for her protection if I have needles,” but then I’m thinking, “but wait, I have no pockets.”
Your mind is truly everywhere at once, trying to comprehend why this is even happening in the first place. As she grew agitated with my questioning of her, she demanded that I shut up and turn around.
LADYBUD: As the search began, you were in full view of passers-by and had Trooper David Ferrell’s headlights on you while female officer Trooper Kelley Helleson proceeded to first cavity search you (back to front) and then your niece without bothering to even change her gloves between the two of you. Did you feel like you were in an alternate, horrible reality?
ANGEL DOBBS: I am in disbelief that it is even happening. She started with my bra and went around my back where the clasp is, then opened the back of my jogging pants and states “You’re not wearing any underwear.”
In my mind, I thought, “How inappropriate it is for her to say that.” We all know where her hand went next. Then came the complete state of shock. I was then spun around her hand goes into the front of my jogging pants! My mind at this point is literally repeating, “She is not going to go there, she is not going to go.” Then it happened. I jump and exclaim, “I have just been violated!” Although she is holding me firmly in place with her other hand pressing down on my shoulder, it felt as if I came off the ground 3 feet. She looked back at me dead in the eye, and did not say a word. This is when fear really set in. If they are capable of violating you in this manner at roadside with people driving by with their faces plastered to the window, what else are they capable of? It is a horrible reality that I would not wish on anyone.
While I was being grossly violated in front of the squad car, my niece was watching the male officer go through my purse and my cell phone. She had absolutely no idea what happened to me and what was going to happen to her next.
LADYBUD: The dashcam footage obtained by your attorney was released to the public right before Christmas in 2012 — were you surprised by how fast it went viral?
ANGEL DOBBS: I was extremely surprised, and it was a very hard decision for me to attach my face and name to the story and not come in as a Jane Doe. I knew in the end I had to for everyone, not just us. I managed to learn through the course of the investigation there were at least 30 other women she had done this to. I knew it was too routine for the officers, it was like they had been roadside raping citizens for years. It is definitely nothing you want to be known for or have the humiliation of by reliving it the rest of your life. I was really hoping it would give the other women courage to come forward. We went public with the footage on Dec 18, 2012. We held our first press conference and before arriving home, my brother was calling me to say it was already all over the internet. The press conference had not even aired yet.
LADYBUD: It must have been very hard to have so many people watch you be violated in this way. Despite your discomfort, why did you feel this was important for the general public to see?
ANGEL DOBBS: It was important for me to get their faces out there, to make others aware of who the predators are. There was nothing that could ever change that night for us, my focus switched to stopping it from happening to anyone else.
One of my biggest fears through the course of the investigation, was they were never pulled from the streets and suspended. I filed my affidavit on July 27th, 2012. Only when I released the tape and went on CNN on December 19, 2012 were they suspended. I feared it was happening to many others in the course of the 5 month time span DPS left them on active duty.
LADYBUD: Your case against DPS was eventually settled for $185,000. As a taxpayer, how do you feel about more cases like this being brought against law enforcement that are also settled with public money? Did you feel the officers got appropriate sentencing as well?
ANGEL DOBBS: Honestly, it’s sad — the officers are repeat offenders in almost every case we see. They always have a prior history of something terrible they did to someone else but remain on the force. The problem is they are held with impunity. I think the millions of dollars that are spent on police brutality cases could be completely avoided, or cut down to a third by not letting them remain a peace officer. There is just no room for these types of mistakes over and over. At the very least, no longer let them remain on the streets and hand them a desk job.
LADYBUD: It seems that Trooper Farrell is back on active duty after a year on paid leave! How the hell does that happen?!?
ANGEL DOBBS: That is a great question! He has a prior dash cam on Youtube, pulling his famous, “how much marijuana do you have in the car?” with another couple in 2009. After detaining them, searching their vehicle at roadside for over 2 hours nothing was found! Upon seeing this video, I then understood why it happened to us that fateful night. I believe he does this to a lot of people to give himself probable cause on video, which is like an “I get to do anything I want to you free” card!
Khris from a 2009 dash cam (video featuring Trooper Farrell) reached out to me immediately, he was one of my biggest supporters against Farrell. I will repeat his words, “I know it will just be a matter of time before he is in the news again.” Had Farrell been pulled from the streets after this incident, my lawsuit would not have happened. He ended up with no oppression charges only theft, which he got off of because no one actually saw him take my prescription.
LADYBUD: You do not consume cannabis and yet that was the impetus for the search — that the officers were strongly suggesting you or your passenger had it or were hiding some in your boyfriend’s vehicle. You’ve mentioned that this whole thing made you re-think law enforcement and you are taking a stand because no one should have to be humiliated and traumatized as you were. What has you reception been from the drug policy reform community?
ANGEL DOBBS: Yes, my trust in law enforcement has been completely shattered. It really opens your eyes to the reality of police brutality that goes on in our society today as a whole. For myself, I began hyper-focusing on every story I saw and there are hundreds of them coming out every day.
I think most of us are just blinded; I clearly was until it happened to me. We are groomed from childhood, being told to trust the police, and we are told they are there to help us and protect us. We need to erase that conditioning.
This is very important to remember: police officers are taught not to trust us, so why should we trust them? I would never call the police for any reason after what happened to us. It very well could end up in you, your family members or your loving pet being shot and killed.
I do not consume cannabis, however I am definitely for it being legalized everywhere. If it can take the probable cause away from police officers, and save someone else from going through the horrific nightmare my niece and I went through that evening as well as countless others, it would be well worth it. We all know the “war on drugs” is not working. It has become an excuse to violate innocent people. My reception from the Drug policy reform community has been very warm and receptive. I became another poster child for why marijuana should be legalized overnight.
LADYBUD: Late last month, the Texas House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill that requires police to obtain search warrants before searching the genital cavities of drivers or passengers during roadside stops. How can others help such legislation succeed in Texas and elsewhere?
ANGEL DOBBS: People need to contact their Representatives and Senators, inform them about the issue, and explain to them that it needs to be legislative priority. House Bill 4071 is currently at the Calendars Committee we need support with people calling to ask it be sent for a floor vote by May 14th 2015.
This is everyone that sits on the Calendars Committee:
Chair, Todd Hunter:
Vice Chair, Eddie Lucio:
Roberto Alonzo: (512) 463-0408
Byron Cook: (512) 463-0730
Sarah Davis: (512) 463-0389
Charlie Geren: (512) 463-0610
Helen Giddings: (512) 463-0953
Patricia Harless: (512) 463-0496
Dan Huberty: (512) 463-0520
Eric Johnson: (512) 463-0586
Ken King: (512) 463-0736
Lyle Larson: (512) 463-0646
Four Price: (512) 463-0470
Debbie Riddle: (512) 463-0572
Eddie Rodriguez: (512) 463-0674