A New Mexico woman claims she suffered for weeks after a Bernalillo County corrections officer strip-searched her and sprayed mace in her vagina.
“It’s tantamount to torture,” Peter Simonson, the Executive Director of ACLU of New Mexico said in an interview with 4 On Your Side.
The ACLU, on behalf of Marlene Tapia, filed a federal lawsuit this week two years after the alleged ordeal occurred -- two years after Tapia first contacted the organization.
Simonson said civil rights cases are complicated to build, but that his staff filed the case within the two-year statute of limitations.
According to court records, police arrested Tapia for a probation violation tied to a previous drug case. While at the Metropolitan Detention Center, Tapia said two officers strip searched her and asked her to bend over at the waist. That’s when they noticed a plastic baggie protruding from Tapia’s vagina.
Instead of taking Tapia to a doctor to have the baggie removed, she said one of the officers – Blanca Zapater – sprayed a chemical agent directly on her genitals twice.
Simonson said the chemical agent was mace.
It's worth noting that these incidents are rarely one-offs. A police culture that could allow this to happen once has likely allowed it to happen on other occasions.
And so this is where we are with the drug war. Government officials are shoving fingers, tubes, and cameras up rectums, sticking hands into vaginas, and spraying mace on genitals, all to protect us from ourselves -- to stop us from getting high. Feel safer?