'Attractive' student says she was victim of unlawful police searches

By Kelly Holleran | Apr 23, 2009

MARTINSBURG – A college student is suing Martinsburg and five of its police officers, saying she was subjected to two unlawful searches during a routine traffic stop.

Lauren Reynolds, who is described in the suit as an "attractive 18-year-old college student," filed the lawsuit March 16 in federal court.

Reynolds says she was driving at the intersection of Winchester and Alonzo in Martinsburg on March 18, 2007, with her brother, Shaun Reynolds and Chrissie Courtney as her passengers.

At the time, two unidentified police officers pulled Reynolds over for speeding. However, Reynolds contends there was no reasonable suspicion or probable cause for the stop.

During the stop, the officers ordered Reynolds to step out of the car and proceeded to search her, even though she had only been stopped for a routine traffic offense, according to the complaint.

Despite the fact that she had been subjected to one roadside frisk with officers finding no contraband, Reynolds says she was again subjected to another "invasive frisk" by another officer.

"During said subsequent search, Officer #22 or Officer #29 or one of the John Does battered, grabbed, rubbed and/or fondled Plaintiff's bosom and buttocks," the suit states.

After the second search, Reynolds was not issued a citation and was released, according to the complaint.

Because of the searches, Reynolds sustained physical harm, extreme fear, torment and suffering of her body and mind, embarrassment, loss of enjoyment of life, humiliation, aggravation and inconvenience, unlawful deprivation of her civil rights and damage to her psyche and reputation, the suit states.

Reynolds claims the officers violated her right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

She also says the city of Martinsburg ratified the officers' actions by hiring and retaining them.

"All Defendants acted toward Plaintiff in a manner which was atrocious, utterly intolerable in a civilized community, and so extreme and outrageous as to exceed all possible bounds of decency and with intent to inflict emotional distress on Plaintiff, or, alternatively, all Defendants acted recklessly in such manner, when it was certain or substantially certain that such distress to Plaintiff would result from all Defendants' conduct thereby proximately causing Plaintiff to suffer emotional distress which was so severe that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it," the suit states.

Reynolds is suing for various damages.

Bader C. Giggenbach of Brewer and Giggenbach in Morgantown and Robert G. McCoid of McCamic, Sacco, Pizzuti and McCoid in Wheeling will be representing Reynolds.

U.S. District Court case number: 3:09-CV-16

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