South Carolina Police Search: Cops Perform Illegal Cavity Search During A Routine Stop

In light of a lawsuit recently filed against Aiken, South Carolina police officers, a Washington Post journalist who’s been investigating illegal police activity in the state posted a video on Friday of two cops performing what appears to be an illegal anal cavity search.

A police dash cam recorded on October 2, 2014, showed a white car being pulled over in Aiken, South Carolina, at 12:20 p.m. Two officers approached the car and informed the driver that she was pulled over because of her “paper tags.” Washington Post states that temporary car tags, also known as “drive out” tags, are legal in South Carolina as long as the date on the back of them hasn’t expired.

Lakeya Hicks, the driver, informed the officers that she had just purchased the car and her permanent plates hadn’t arrived yet. After officers ran the vehicle’s information, they said that it checked out. Yet, instead of letting Hicks go, the officers ordered her and her passenger, Elijah Pontoon, out of the car.

The cop, identified as Officer Chris Medlin of the Aiken Department of Public Safety (ADPS), told Hicks and Pontoon that he was bringing in a K9 Unit so that dogs could search the car. When Pontoon questioned the officer, Medlin said the following.

“Because of your history, I’ve got a dog coming in here. Gonna walk a dog around the car…You gonna pay for this one, boy.”

After the officers and dogs searched the car, they informed both Hicks and Pontoon that they needed to conduct body searches, including an anal cavity search on Pontoon. When Hicks protested about being touched, the officer said that a female officer would search her.

Meanwhile, Medlin told Pontoon that he saw something suspicious and would put gloves on to do a cavity search.

“You’ve got something here right between your legs. There’s something hard right there between your legs.”

As Pontoon protested and told Medlin that he had hemorrhoids, the officer continued with the anal cavity search anyway, and told Medlin he was skeptical.

“I’ve had hemorrhoids, and they ain’t that hard.”

Although the video doesn’t show the officer physically performing the anal cavity search, the audio indicates that two officers proceeded with it. One of the officers is heard saying the following.

“What are you talking about, right here? Right straight up in there.”

Pontoon insisted that the officers were pushing on his hemorrhoid, but apparently they didn’t believe him. They continued to search him but ultimately found nothing. Medlin can be heard talking to someone shortly afterward, stating that he “felt something hard” but since he didn’t find anything, he let him go since he had “nothing else to go on.”

Although it’s true that Hicks has a criminal record that includes past drug charges, he’s had a clean record since 2006. He told Medlin that he has kids now, indicating that his past actions don’t reflect on his present condition. Medlin claimed he remembered Hicks and had dealt with him on previous occasions, which gave him reasonable suspicion to perform the search.

The lawsuit, filed by both Hicks and Pontoon, names Medlin, along with several other officers and the Director of the ADPS officers, as defendants. Court documents show that the defendants are accused of improper search and seizure and improper actions.

The South Carolina police officers are being sued under the Federal law and Federal Causes of action, and Hicks and Pontoon are seeking punitive damages. The Director of ADPS and the City of Aiken are being sued under the State law causes of action, although no punitive damages are being sought against them.

[Photo by Shutterstock]