Things That Matter

Police Violated This Woman’s Rights And Dignity When They Pulled Out Her Tampon On The Side Of A Busy Street

On Thursday, the City of San Antonio approved a $205,000 payout to a woman who had been violated by police officers.

Natalie Simms, 40, sued the city of San Antonio, Texas and ex-Detective Mara Wilson — who removed Simms’ tampon despite being told she was on her period.

The unimaginable experience all started when Simms was sitting on a curb and was approached by police.

Natalie Simms, a woman in her late 30s living in San Antonio, wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary as she waited for her boyfriend on that day in August 2016. She was sitting on the curb, her car parked across the street, talking on the phone and minding her own business.

That’s when police officers arrived. They believed she might be in possession of illegal drugs and asked to search her car. After she agreed, they called a female officer to also search her. Even though she didn’t have any contraband, they said she couldn’t leave until she was fully searched by detective Mara Wilson, according to court records filed last year in the Western District of Texas.

Later, Wilson, who allegedly did not have a warrant at the time, asked Simms if she could pull down her shorts.

Out in the public, as cars drove by, Wilson conducted a vaginal cavity search, the lawsuit said. Wilson instructed Simms to “spread your legs,” and asked, “do you have anything down here before I reach down here?”

“Natalie began to realize, with shock, what Officer Wilson intended to do,” according to the lawsuit. “Officer Wilson intended to reach down into Natalie’s pants and made contact with her pubic hair and vagina.”

When Simms told Wilson that she was on her period, the lawsuit alleges that Wilson lied by saying she wasn’t going to reach into her pants but just “look.” Instead, with five male officers watching, Wilson “pulled open Natalie’s pants and underwear.”

The conversation between Simms and Wilson, taken directly from the lawsuit, reads:

WILSON: Uh-huh. Are you wearing a tampon, too?
SIMMS: Yes.
WILSON: Okay. I just want to make sure that’s what it is. Is that a tampon?
SIMMS: Come on. Yes.
WILSON: Huh? Is that a tampon?
SIMMS: It’s full of blood, right? Why would you do that?
WILSON: I don’t know. It looked like it had stuff in there.
SIMMS: There ain’t nothing in there.

Wilson also commented on the amount of pubic hair Simms had and continued to tell Simms they could not go to the police station to finish conducting the search, despite Simms’ persistence, the lawsuit states.

Following the search, Simms sued the city of San Antonio and Wilson, alleging the encounter to be a “blatant violation” of her constitutional rights that “resulted in significant and lasting harm.”

Natalie suffered through a shocking display of what can occur when police power is unchecked. Natalie was humiliated and degraded as a result of the police officer’s actions,” her attorney Dean Malone told local news station WOAI in March 2018. “We intend to seek full damages available under the law and look forward to presenting Natalie’s horrible experience to a jury.”

In a surprise twist to Simm’s case, however, city lawyers offered $205,000 to Simms

The city settled the case before it could go to trial.

“We evaluate cases and look for potential resolutions without the necessity of proceeding to trial.  We were able to resolve this matter with this proposed settlement and believe it to be in the best interest of all involved,” said City Attorney Andy Segovia.

In the wake of the incident, the city nor the police department has issued any sort of apology.

In the wake of the incident, Wilson, who retired in May 2017, stood by the way she searched Simms. “It was really nasty, but I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t anything in there,” she told another detective, according to court records. She claimed she needed to conduct the search because “you don’t know what they have. I mean, they stick all kinds of stuff.”

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