A mother and daughter have sued the City of Pasadena and Pasadena police alleging they were sexually assaulted by two officers during a 2016 traffic stop, but the city says the allegations are patently false and they’ve got the video to prove it.
The federal civil rights lawsuit was filed in late April on behalf of 43-year-old Sharell Thompson and her 22-year-old daughter, Sharaya Brown, both Pasadena residents.
In it, they say they were driving to Brown’s college on May 2, 2016, when “they were subjected to a nightmare of a traffic stop,” according to the lawsuit, filed by attorney Dakar Diourbel of the Los Angeles-based law firm Diourbel & Associates.
Officers Thebeau and Carey pulled over the women’s car near the intersection of Altadena Drive and East Foothill Boulevard, stating that a police helicopter had observed them running a stop sign, the lawsuit states.
“The officers then feigned a justification to ‘search’ and sexually assault Sharaya Brown and Sharell Thompson,” it claims.
The women allege “Officer Thebeau literally ordered… Ms. Thompson to lift her shirt, forcing her to expose her breasts in public,” the lawsuit states.
“Next, a mortified Ms. Thompson was forced to watch Officer Carey ‘search,’ fondle, sexually assault and molest her daughter, Sharaya Brown, using his bare hands to rub between her legs, in the area of her crotch … placing his hands in her pants pockets, front and back, and reaching inside the back of her pants in the area of her buttocks.”
The suit states the women were ultimately issued a citation and the officers left.
The women’s lawsuit seeks “compensatory and exemplary damages in excess of $25 million.”
The City formally responded to, and rejected, the legal claim last week. And it’s seeking for the women to pay the City’s legal costs.
“The lawsuit filed against the City of Pasadena accusing two officers of inappropriate conduct during a traffic stop two years ago is baseless and, in fact, the claims on which the lawsuit rests are easily proven false,” Acting Pasadena Public Information Office Lisa Derderian said in a written statement.
“Pasadena Police Department patrol officers initiated a traffic stop based upon a detective investigation and traffic violation witnessed by police,” according to Derderian.
“As per department policies and procedures, the officers remained professional the entire time, assessed the situation, speaking with the individuals and conducting appropriate and necessary searches of the individuals — a waistband check for weapons — and of the vehicle,” she said. “After the vehicle and individuals were searched and questioned, they were free to leave the scene.”
The mother and daughter claim that although they immediately reported the wrongdoing to the department, “…it did virtually nothing in response to the Plaintiff’s horrifying complaint,” according to the lawsuit.
“It would be naive to believe that Ms. Thompson and her daughter are the only women terrorized and molested by Officers Thebeau and Carey, and there are reasons to believe there has been a massive cover-up of this outrageous and life-shattering police conduct.”
Derderian said the department investigated the allegation properly.
“When the police department received a personnel complaint, a thorough review of the incident was undertaken per department policy,” she said. “The in-car camera footage from the patrol car clearly shows that the officers acted appropriately. The City of Pasadena will release the video (Tuesday) morning, which shows that the lawsuit is unsubstantiated.”
A scheduling conference in the case has been set for Nov. 5.