The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is being sued for compensatory and punitive damages under state and federal law. No dollar amount has been set.
Two men have filed a lawsuit against Charlotte police, claiming police assaulted and kidnapped them while violating their civil rights by subjecting them to illegal searches in April 2014 at a west Charlotte motel.
The lawsuit was filed in January 2016. Defendants in the lawsuit include the city of Charlotte, former Police Chief Rodney Monroe, Sergeant John Gorrod, and officers Michael Bodenstein and Michael Wallin.
The plaintiffs Jeramie Barideaux and Jonathan Harris claim they were sitting in a vehicle at the Rodeway Inn in west Charlotte listening to music and discussing future endeavors when officer Michael Wallin parked his patrol car in front of their car.
Officer Wallin said he was responding to a suspicious vehicle 911 call.
Sergeant John Gorrod and officer Michael Bodenstein arrived seconds later. Officer Wallin said he wanted to search the vehicle, but they refused.
Wallin ordered the two men out of the vehicle and began searching them for drugs without consent, which happens to be a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Officer Bodenstein began to search Harris, that search included his genitalia and buttocks. Upon the first search, Bodenstein searched Harris a second time, telling Harris that he believed he was hiding crack cocaine in his anus.
Even though the first two illegal searches yielded no drugs, Bodenstein stated, “I can either squeeze your ass for crack now, or arrest you and check your ass for crack downtown.”
Harris was then taken inside of a motel room where he was ordered to strip search down to bare nudity. It was then that Harris was ordered to bend over while Bodenstein and Wallin searched Harris’s buttocks.
But still no drugs were found in the third search.
The two plaintiffs were released on the scene.
The attorney for the plaintiffs Morris McAdoo said the lawsuit is designed “to bring justice for these young men by revealing the details of this painful night.”
“Plantiffs were improperly seized without probable cause or reasonable suspicions. Plantiffs were denied liberty without justification in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. The seizure was unreasonable and undertaken in malice, willfulness, and reckless indifference.”
The officers’ conduct was extreme and outrageous exceeding all bounds of human decency
The suit alleges that Sergeant Gorrod gave Bodenstein and Wallin the green light to perform multiple body cavity searches, and was aware of the probable consequences in doing so.
In fact, police records show that Gorrod was suspended in February 2010. The department would not detail the reason as to why Gorrod was suspended.
The suit also claims former Chief Monroe, “Adopted and encouraged a policy and approach in conducting warrantless search and seizures including body cavity searches that violate the constitutional and privacy rights of citizens”
The lawsuit describes Officer Wallin’s actions as corrupt, intentional and illegal.
It’s interesting to note that Wallin’s wife also works for the police department. Although officer Jessica Wallin was not named in the suit, she is the Public Information Officer, meaning her job is to speak to the media.
In a one-on-one interview with PINAC News, she said, “I look forward to my husband being cleared of any wrong doing once the truth comes out.”