Puyallup

Suit: Puyallup jail officers filmed women while undressed, on toilet

Suit: Puyallup jail officers filmed women while undressed, on toilet »Play Video
Police video shows a woman being led into a holding cell where she and others allegedly were filmed while naked and on the toilet.
PUYALLUP, Wash. - Shocking allegations against Puyallup jail officers, made public Thursday morning, accuse them of videotaping female suspects in the jail while undressed and using the toilet.

Eleven women and one man are suing - all with similar stories. They say they were arrested, taken to the jail and told to undress and use a toilet in front of a camera.

"I'm angry, I mean I'm embarrassed," said one woman who has joined in the lawsuit. "I feel violated. ... It's just a swirl of emotions, really."

All 12 of those suing relate stories of abuse at the hands of jail officers in Puyallup.

"They had originally told me to change behind a curtain in a designated area. But when I questioned them, it's like they took it as insubordination instead of me simply asking a question," said one woman. "And they sent me into this holding cell to change instead.

"They asked me, 'Is that everything? I told them, well, I still had my undergarments on. And they said I needed to take off everything. ... And then I was shown the videos, and it was absolutely horrifying and embarrassing," the woman said. "Honestly, it's embarrassing, I feel violated."

The 11 others have similar stories - all from between September 2010 and April 2013.

They were arrested - usually for a DUI-related charge - and taken to jail, where they were told to change all their clothes for a booking photo, according to the lawsuit.

One women claims a jail officer cupped his hands around her breasts during a search. And almost all were recorded using a toilet in plain view of a camera.

"They were snickering at these women," said plaintiffs' attorney James Egan. "Called one woman a squatter, asked the woman with the red hair if she's red downstairs too."

The lawsuit says not a single woman was booked, but rather each was released as not a danger to the community. Many were not eventually convicted of DUI. None had been charged with crimes at the time of their unknowing naked exposure to male officers, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs are expressing feelings of extreme emotional distress. And they're especially concerned because the cameras remain inside the jail.

"Honestly, it's awful," says one woman. "Like I said, nobody should have to go through this. And finding out about this was awful enough and the fact that there could be more going on right now is just absolutely disgusting."

The 12 plaintiffs in the lawsuit are singling out the city of Puyallup, but especially Chief Bryan Jeter and Lt. Edward Shannon, who are responsible to supervise the accused jail officers.

KOMO News is still awaiting a response from the Puyallup Police Department to the allegations, but Puyallup City Attorney Kevin Yamamoto called Egan a slimy attorney and says the jail cameras are necessary for security.

We checked with both Pierce County and King County, which operate the largest jails in our area, and both said unequivocally they do not have cameras where detainees would use toilets - nor do they videotape anyone when they're changing into jail clothing.