Woman sues Florida sheriff, alleging she was forced to leave her home naked twice while deputies executed arrest warrants

In Florida, a woman sued the sheriff of a department that was investigated this month following the fatal shooting of a senior Black Air Force airman, alleging she was forced twice to leave her home naked while deputies were executing arrest warrants at her home.

LaTanya Griffin, who said she was not arrested or charged after the clashes, is seeking damages of more than $1 million from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. The suit alleges that her Fourth Amendment rights, which prohibit unreasonable searches and seizures, were violated when deputies forced her to leave her home undressed on August 1, 2017. May 29, 2019, and again on May 28, 2020. She was not the target of the arrest warrants, her lawyer said.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court Monday evening, names as defendants Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden and Grady Carpenter, a now-retired deputy who was present during the execution of both warrants. Carpenter “provided direction and supervision” of Griffin’s “naked seizure and deputy operations” during the May 2020 incident, the latest accusations in the lawsuit. Aden and Carpenter did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Griffin, 46, previously sued the sheriff’s office in federal court last August over the 2019 incident. She alleges in the suit that the officers used a battering ram to enter her home while executing a warrant. search and ordered her at gunpoint to remain naked in front of officers and the public, including her 6-year-old daughter and her 14-year-old daughter. one year old son.

The previous lawsuit named as defendants Aden, Carpenter and another deputy, Raphael Brown, who also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In court documents, attorneys for the sheriff’s office said in response to the first complaint that the deputies’ actions were consistent with “established, reasonable and generally accepted police procedure.” The attorneys also said the actions of the two deputies named in this suit “were done in good faith and while acting within the scope of their employment as deputy sheriffs with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.”

The first lawsuit is still in the discovery phase, said Griffin’s attorney, Kevin Anderson.

The latest lawsuit alleges that the May 2020 incident bore “a striking similarity to the August 29 seizure.” The second incident involved the execution of a pre-dawn arrest warrant at Griffin’s two-story home, in a modest residential community directly parallel to a busy public road, according to the lawsuit. The suit contends that Carpenter failed to exercise his supervisory authority to stop the constitutional violation.

Once outside her residence, Griffin’s children observed her “while she was detained naked for a considerable period of time,” the lawsuit states, adding that her hands were tied or handcuffed behind her back. Although she objected, Griffin remained naked in the presence of several law enforcement officers, the suit states. The officers eventually placed a tank top over his head, “providing partial coverage but not concealing his genitals,” the complaint states.

Anderson, speaking on her behalf, said Griffin was humiliated and has since moved from Okaloosa County in the Florida Panhandle, east of Pensacola, to the northern part of the state.

He called the actions of deputies in both incidents “abhorrent.”

“They took no precautions to preserve his dignity,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “She was humiliated and forced to do what they wanted her to do. She was treated like an animal.

Griffin’s nudity continued outside his home, on the side of the road and inside a law enforcement vehicle, according to the lawsuit.

According to the suit, Griffin suffered loss of liberty, physical inconvenience, physical discomfort, mental anguish, emotional distress, emotional suffering, mental and emotional harm, embarrassment, humiliation, violation of his dignity and damage to his reputation. She is seeking unspecified damages, including medical care, lost earnings and income, and moving expenses for the current claim.

Air Force Senior Airman Roger Fortson.US Air Force

The sheriff’s office is already facing scrutiny after a deputy fatally shot Air Force Senior Airman Roger Fortson on May 3 after he answered his door holding a gun pointed downwards.

The sheriff’s office also faced criticism this year after a video surfaced showing one of its deputies mistaking the sound of an acorn hitting his patrol vehicle for a gunshot. The officer fired multiple shots at the police SUV, where a black man was handcuffed in the backseat. The man was not injured in the November incident and the deputy resigned.

“There are many instances where the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office has been scrutinized,” Anderson said. “It only takes a quick look on Google to see deadly force used or indiscretion with seizures of people in the community and supervisors sleeping at the wheel while their deputies run amok.”

He said the sheriff’s office needs to be subject to scrutiny from an outside agency, ideally the Justice Department.

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