LUVERNE — The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court Wednesday against Rock County Sheriff Evan Verbrugge, two deputies and the county for an unlawful body cavity search.
The litigation is leveled on behalf of Kelli Jo Torres, who says deputies Dallas Hamm and Shelley Douty tried to conduct the unlawful search on her during a traffic stop in November of 2018 on a 9-degree night on the Interstate 90 on-ramp in Luverne. The ACLU cites the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which prevents search and seizure without probable cause.
In a 21-minute video of dash cam footage, the search is off-camera, but audio of the exchange between Torres and the deputies can be clearly heard.
More than 25 times, Torres asks the deputies to take her into the police station to conduct the search, saying she is cold and feels violated by the roadside invasion. At one point, Torres asks to sit in the police cruiser, and Hamm tells her she has lost the privilege of being warm because she is refusing the search.
Following the November 2018 incident, the Rock County Attorney's office dropped all charges filed against Torres.
“It’s disturbing to me that I was on the side of an interstate like that,” Torres said. “I feel very violated by the whole situation. I repeatedly asked them to do the right thing. It makes me not trust law enforcement.”
The ACLU asks the court to find that Hamm's and Douty's actions are a violation of the Fourth Amendment, to award damages to Torres and to prevent similar situations from happening in the future. Torres added that she hopes Hamm and Douty are fired.