Tabitha Gentry was taken into custody for disorderly conduct and resisting officers on March 30 following a domestic disturbance, but encountered reprehensible treatment once she arrived at the jail — and an Indiana sheriff insists that the torment she faced is a normal procedure.
Almost immediately after her arrival at the Floyd County Jail, Gentry was taken to what the jail calls the “padded room.” There, she was held down and forcibly stripped by two male and two female officers.
“Almost immediately upon entering the jail, she’s assaulted by four officers. They grab her around the neck, they grab her body,” Gentry’s attorney, Laura Landenwich explained. “They hold her down. There are two male officers and two female officers and they forcibly remove her pants, her shoes, her underwear and her shirt and bra.”
“Terrified and humiliated, she’s banging on the door asking someone to give her her clothing and someone comes to the door and says, ‘If you don’t shut up, I’m going to pepper spray you,’ and sure enough, they open the door, spray pepper spray into the room and they leave — and they leave her in there for 40 minutes, naked, in a cell filled with pepper spray.”
Landenwich says her client was eventually handcuffed and taken to wash out her eyes. “She has a blanket draped over her shoulders, she’s paraded through the booking area in full view of anyone who happened to be there,” Landenwich said.
Gentry was then put back in the cell and left — still naked — for another five hours before she was given a jumpsuit to wear.
“Now this is a woman, who under our system of law, is innocent until proven guilty. She’s charged and she’s charged with a misdemeanor crime that’s not a violent crime,” said Landenwich.
Landenwich feels that this inhumane treatment of her client is normal in the Floyd County Jail. “What we also see on the video is there is another inmate also being held naked prior to her entering that cell,” Landenwich said. “These are egregious constitutional violations.”
When asked if it is policy to remove an inmate’s clothing prior to booking, Sheriff Darrell Mills told WDRB that they “don’t strip search.” He told the station that there is certain criteria for different circumstances, and that each case is different, before referring WDRB to an attorney.
Mills said that clothing can be removed if it needs to be checked for drugs and other items (However, he did not explain how this is not a strip search) but, as is jail policy, a cavity search was not performed, according to Gentry’s attorney. “This was not a strip search … I think it was outright abuse,” Landentich said.
Mills feels that what Gentry experienced at the hands of officers is completely appropriate.