A Florida police officer who forced a young woman to lift her shirt and shake out her bra during a routine traffic stop has been suspended without pay for one day.
The punishment was handed down to Lakeland Police Officer Dustin Fetz Wednesday after video of the May 21 traffic stop of Zoe Brugger sparked outrage in Lakeland and across the country.
Despite search tactics that the State’s Attorney called ‘highly questionable’ and ‘demeaning,’ the a Lakeland police investigation found that Fetz didn’t violate the department’s strip-search policy.
He was technically suspended not for making Miss Brugger shake out her bra, but instead for not using his microphone to record audio during the traffic stop – or for several previous stops he made, according to the Lakeland Ledger.
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Miss Brugger, who had given birth to a baby boy just days earlier, can be seen crying as she lifts her shirt in dashcam video of the traffic search.
Officers found no evidence of drugs or other illegal substances when they pulled Miss Brugger and boyfriend Larry Fields over this spring for having only one working headlight.
Brugger told ABC Action News that Fetz ‘made me go through the whole humiliating ordeal with shaking my bra out, right there in the middle of this parking lot on Beacon Road.’
When no drugs appeared, Fetz ‘told me that he was taking me to Bartow jail for driving on a suspended license and that they had an x-ray machine there and they were definitely going to find what I had hidden inside of me,’ Brugger said.
Brugger was driving on an invalid license, which was enough reason to arrest her. But Fetz didn’t. Instead he asked to search the vehicle, and when the couple relented, he searched it anyway.
Another office who showed up as backup considered the search improper.
Fetz broke another rule during the stop by leaving the audio off in the dash camera. If the audio had been turned on, ‘there would be little to no speculation as to what occurred during that traffic stop,’ said State Attorney Investigator Mike Brown.
At the end of the stop, Fetz told Brugger ‘I’m done scaring you, and now you can do home,’ she told The News Herald. After the incident, she filed a complaint and notified the State Attorney’s Office.
State Attorney Jerry Hill called for an investigation and wrote a critical letter to the Lakeland Police Department saying that the search was ‘highly questionable’ and not only ‘demeaning’ but ‘ineffective and possibly dangerous.’
He cited the fact that, if Brugger had been concealing a weapon, asking her to shake out her bra would have just given her access to that weapon.
Fetz, on the other hand, told investigators that the search method ‘is a known technique that is used by some LPD officers though he can’t recall formally being trained to use it.
‘Looking back on the incident (Fetz) recognizes that he was overzealous in his attempt to locate illegal drugs or contraband in the car,’ Brown said.
Fetz was put on a four day suspension with pay during the investigation and returned to work on June 18. The Lakeland Police Department will now be conducting their own investigation of the incident, in order to determine whether or not to terminate Fetz.
‘This department does not condone the alleged actions as have been reported in recent days and any officer proven to be involved in this type of behavior will be dealt with accordingly, including possible termination,’ Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack said in a statement.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2433885/Police-Officer-woman-shake-bra-routine-traffic-stop-suspended-ONE-DAY.html#ixzz2g6mpfBHG
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