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LaSalle Co. strip-search case gets special prosecutor

The LaSalle County Sheriff is denying allegations that officers strip-searched a woman following a DUI arrest.
October 28, 2013 3:27:16 PM PDT
A special prosecutor will look into possible criminal wrongdoing after a woman says she was illegally strip searched in LaSalle County.

The incident involving Dana Holmes was recorded by surveillance cameras.

"I'm glad I'm doing what I'm doing. I'm trying to be strong for myself and other people this may have happened to," she said.

Holmes is suing LaSalle County claiming she was illegally strip searched after a drunken driving arrest back in May. Jail video - which is recorded without audio - shows her being processed by four sheriff's deputies - three men, one woman. Holmes says she was compliant and non-combative throughout. At one point, she raises her right leg; the deputies take her to the floor saying it was a kick. They then proceed to remove all her clothes.

The sheriff's office says Holmes was placed in a padded cell so she would calm down and that she was not strip searched.

"To say, 'this was a strip but not a search, we weren't looking for anything, we just took her clothes off' is crazy," said Terry Ekl, Holmes' attorney.

Ekl argues that what happened to Holmes amounts to criminal conduct since state law permits strip searches only when police believe an arrestee is concealing a weapon or drugs. Ekl asked for the appointment of a special prosecutor over the objections of the state's attorney who accused Ekl of creating a media circus.

"He's been on every media outlet in the country casting aspersions on these deputies, and he has all the materials. I don't know how he got them, and these deputies did not commit a crime," said Brian Towne, LaSalle County state's attorney.

"I just want justice served. It's wrong. No one deserves to be treated this way. I hope they lose their jobs and suffer the consequences of their actions," Holmes said.

Holmes filed a lawsuit against the department over what she calls an improper strip search following her arrest last May. The incident was caught on the department's surveillance cameras. The LaSalle County sheriff says the accusations are false and have resulted in death threats against some officers.

A sheriff's statement earlier this month said after her clothes were removed, Holmes was promptly provided with a tear-proof suit. The sheriff also says Holmes was not thrown to the ground, but taken down in in a controlled manner with no injuries.

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