Archived Story

Citizen sues Dadeville over ‘strip search’

Published 7:31pm Thursday, September 26, 2013

Two Dadeville police officers are accused of conducting a strip search on the shoulder of U.S. Highway 280 in a federal civil rights complaint filed Sept. 18 in U.S. Middle District Court.
The complaint was filed on behalf of Randall E. Mann, against Dadeville Police officers Chris Towne and Chris McCrane and against the City of Dadeville.
The suit alleges Mann’s civil rights were deprived by an “unlawful and unreasonable search” and in the violation of “substantive due process right to bodily integrity.”
City Attorney Robin Reynolds said city and police officials are unable to offer comment on the litigation, but said the case had been turned over to the city’s litigation counsel with municipal insurer AMIC.
“We have received the complaint and begun an investigation,” Reynolds said. “The city will vigorously defend the case.”
Reynolds said he is unable to give any further information as the case, and any evidence or documents from the case and later investigation were forwarded to the litigation attorney.
According to the complaint, the officers pulled over the vehicle Mann was driving on May 14 in a location “believed to be outside the corporate limits for the City of Dadeville.” He had two passengers, and the vehicle did not belong to Mann. Officer Towne asked Mann and his passengers to step out of the car.
“Towne advised Mann that he would be strip-searched and demanded that Mann remove his clothing including his shirt, pants and undergarments,” according to the complaint.
Mann claims that at that point he “stood naked alongside Highway 280.”
The complaint claims neither of the two other men in the car with Mann were searched. Mann’s complaint alleges that the officer instructed Mann to face “in the opposite direction of Highway 280, bend over and touch his toes and to spread his ‘cheeks.’”
“Again, reluctantly, Mann complied,” according to the complaint.
No contraband was discovered on Mann’s person, according to the complaint, which also claims the other men were only subjected to “pat-down” searches.
“Towne and McCrane conducted an overtly intrusive strip-search of Mann in the absence of a warrant or arguable probable cause to believe that Mann was concealing either a weapon or other contraband on or within his person,” the complaint closes.
Mann’s complaint claims the alleged search without probable cause violated Mann’s rights under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The “overtly intrusive strip-search” violated Mann’s rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, the complaint claims.
“(The police department) is aware of the allegations,” said Sgt. Investigator Johnathan Floyd. “We take them very seriously. However (the case) has been placed in the hands of the attorney, and we feel he will adequately represent the city’s interests.”
The Dadevlle City Council was informed of the pending lawsuit in an executive session at the close of Tuesday’s regular meetings. Mayor Joe Smith and the officers involved were served papers on the case earlier this week.
Mayor Joe Smith said he was unaware of the lawsuit until he was served with papers earlier this week.
Mann’s complaint asks the federal court to enter a declaratory judgment that “the policies and practices alleged herein are unlawful and violative of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendements.” It also requests compensatory and punitive damages.