SAPD officer pulled out woman's tampon, did vaginal search on side of road, lawsuit claims

SAN ANTONIO – A lawsuit filed in federal court Friday claims a San Antonio Police officer pulled a woman's tampon out and searched her vaginal cavity along the shoulder of a public street in 2016.

Natalie D. Simms' attorney filed the lawsuit against the City of San Antonio and a female officer, identified as Mara Wilson, stating that the search violated Simms' constitutional rights.

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According to the filing, Simms was approached by officers while sitting on a curb, talking on the phone and waiting for her boyfriend. The lawsuit claims Simms consented to a search of her car, which was parked across the street from where she was sitting, and that authorities found no illegal items.

Then, the lawsuit alleges, authorities called a female officer, Wilson, to the scene to search Simms.

The lawsuit details parts of the conversations between Simms and Wilson, recorded from Wilson's body camera. According to the court documents, Simms and Wilson went back and forth about the kind of clothes she was wearing before Wilson began searching her vaginal cavity.

The following is a quotation of a conversation between Simms and Wilson, included in the lawsuit, leading up to the search:

Wilson: Stand up straight. Kind of lean back a little bit. (Inaudible) This
is -- these are shorts? Oh, it's a skirt-short?
Simms: Yes.
Wilson: Oh, hell. Okay. Look straight ahead, okay. Spread your legs. I'm
gonna ask you, do you have anything down here before I reach down here?
Simms: No. I don't have nothing in my --.
Wilson: Okay.

The lawsuit alleges Wilson assured she would not "reach," rather "just look," but that Simms kept flinching. 

The following is a quotation of a conversation between Simms and Wilson, included in the lawsuit, during the search:

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?

The lawsuit alleges Simms asked why she had to be searched on the side of a road and not at "the station," to which Wilson said "Which (police station)? We got a whole bunch of them."

Court documents report that Wilson told a detective she was "searching everything," and had removed Simms' tampon because she "just wanted to make sure there wasn't anything in there." 

The document states Simms never consented to the vaginal cavity search and that authorities never found anything illegal during their search. She was allowed to leave.

An internal investigation, the lawsuit states, revealed the officer that called Wilson to the scene "never indicated to do a cavity search." Court documents state Wilson retired on May 1. 

Simms' attorney is asking for a jury trial. 

The city's attorney said his office is still reviewing the lawsuit and had no comment Sunday.


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