San Antonio Police Removed A Woman's Tampon During A Random Search And Now, They Owe Her $205K
San Antonio Police Department Detective Mara Wilson, the officer who violated Natalie Simms, was allowed to retire without any charges in 2017
The San Antonio City Council will vote to approve a settlement awarding Natalie Simms $205,000 after she filed a lawsuit stating Detective Mara Wilson pulled out her tampon during a random stop and search in 2016.
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Simms and her lawyer Dean Malone have agreed to the settlement, according to the San Antonio Express-News. In Simms' federal lawsuit filed last year in the Western District of Texas, she says she was unfairly stopped by police in San Antonio on August 8, 2016.
Last year, Malone told NBC4SA “Natalie suffered through a shocking display of what can occur when police power is unchecked. Natalie was humiliated and degraded as a result of the police officer’s actions."
"We intend to seek full damages available under the law and look forward to presenting Natalie’s horrible experience to a jury,” he added at the time.
Simms was talking on the phone and waiting for her boyfriend when detectives approached her. Without cause, she said she agreed to let them search her clothes and car because she had done nothing wrong. Simms said she thought the situation was over after nothing turned up during the search, but then the officers called for female backup.
Wilson ignored Simms and violently yanked on the string and pulled out her tampon. Simms' lawyer wrote she repeatedly told the detective she was on her period and was wearing a menstrual pad at the time.
In a transcript of dash-cam footage from that night, Simms asked the detective why she would do that to her, and Wilson responded, "it looked like it had stuff in there."
Despite Simms' pleas, Wilson continued to search her vagina and can be heard on the dash-cam telling her, "You’re very hairy.”
To Simms' horror, Wilson was not done. After searching her vagina, Wilson implied she wanted to search Simms anally. According to the Washington Post, Simms begged the officers to take her to a police station to conduct the search, but they refused, performing the entire search on a public street.
The police never found anything on Simms and allowed her to drive home.
After hearing how much the city was giving Simms, some local activists threatened to protest, calling it a drop in the bucket compared to the trauma she had to live through.
The police department defended Wilson and denied that she did anything wrong. Nine months after violating Simms, Wilson was allowed to retire from the force. She served on the force for 32 years before leaving in May 2017. The only punishment the police department ever gave her was a notation in her personnel file.
Sadly, this is not the first case in Texas like this. Just last year, Harris County was forced to pay a $185,000 settlement to a woman from Houston who was also violated during a cavity search right next to a busy corner store.