A routine traffic stop has resulted in widespread outrage after an Austin, Texas police officer performed a search of a young woman while a crowd of onlookers filmed the incident.
Video which appeared online Tuesday resulted in a storm of controversy. While police say the officer acted "appropriately," the woman has accused the officer of sexual assault, given that while he patted her down looking for drugs or weapons he appeared to grope her breasts.
Police said the woman was taken into custody due to "multiple hazardous traffic violations". A report in Yahoo News/Insider.com describes of the viral video of the incident:
In the video, which circulated Tuesday, the woman, identified by police as Rosalinda Nuno Trevino, demands a female officer while the officer continues to search the woman in front of a parked police vehicle.
In a statement published on July 7, the Austin Police Department defended the officer's conduct. It said the officer, who has not been publicly identified, told Trevino that a female officer wasn't available.
The woman is heard yelling for a female officer to do the pat down, but Austin police said in a later statement that no female officers were present at the time.
Austin PD said further that protocol was followed, given the presence of an additional officer assisting the arrest and that the pat down was done clearly in front of police cameras and without attempt to conceal the invasive procedure.
"He conducted the search in front of a police vehicle where a vehicle camera could document and at least one other officer was present, as required by APD policy," the Austin PD statement reads.
The video further includes an angry crowd onlookers, with one man yelling:
'Don't you f***ing touch her like that. Get your f***ing hands off her. Get a female officer in here now she's f***ing being manhandled!'
Austin police policy states that female searches will be conducted as follows: "Officers will use the backside of their hands and fingers to frisk/search sensitive areas of the opposite gender to include the breast, crotch, and buttocks."
I guess they have to figure out a way to search the chest area without “molesting” people 👀— DNT (@letweetsfromd) July 8, 2020
Police also defended the officer's actions given he informed the young woman that no female police were available and that he was about to perform the search.
After she's seen angrily lodging a protest and is in visible discomfort, the officer actually slides his hand under her breast a second time, which further enrages the onlookers. There's now widespread calls for the officer's dismissal.