Irvine Police Sued for Alleged Civil-Rights 'Nightmare'
Go ahead and pee in your pants.
Two Los Angeles women have filed civil-rights lawsuits alleging that members of the Irvine Police Department unlawfully detained, searched and assaulted them, as well as forced one of them to urinate in her pants to the officers' amusement.
According to lawsuits by Stephanie M. Lofton and Helen Dehann, numerous Irvine police officers created an unnecessary and illegal "nightmare" during a May 28, 2010, late-night incident at the 5 freeway and Sand Canyon Avenue.
The pair separately claim that officers forcefully interrogated them about nonexistent illegal narcotics in their vehicle after they pulled to the side of the road to wait for a second car traveling with them that had gotten lost.
"[Lofton] felt threatened by the cops in that if she did not provide them with the answers they wanted to hear, rather than the truth, she would be arrested," wrote Lofton's attorney, Sabrina Fernandez. "After approximately two hours of harassment and unwarranted interrogation, the cops unlawfully arrested Lofton and transported her to the Irvine Police Department . . . where the cops continued to deny her access to a restroom."
A "urine-soaked" Lofton was eventually moved to the Orange County Jail, according to the lawsuit.
Court records don't show criminal charges--even minor misdemeanors--ever filed against Lofton or Dehaan, and Irvine Police spokeswoman Julia Engen wasn't able to clear up the mystery of what happened that night. Engen said she can't comment on pending litigation.
Reached by telephone, Fernandez refused to comment on the case.
In her complaint, Dehaan claims the cops told her she was not under arrest but still refused to let her leave the scene to use a restroom for more than an hour.
"When Dehann started to leave the scene, one of the officers grabbed her by the arm, told her she was being detained and could not leave," according to Dehaan's lawsuit, which also alleges the cops used "such force as to cause marks and a bruise on her upper torso."
The suit continues, "Much later, a male police officer directed a female police officer to let Dehaan urinate against a chain-link fence. The female officer shone her bright, high-powered flashlight at Dehaan's exposed genital area, illuminating it for her friends and the other cops to observe as she urinated."
Dehaan claims the incident was humiliating and has caused her to become reclusive.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly
(rscottmoxley at ocweekly dot com)
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