NEW ALBANY, IN — A mother of 4 says that while she was in police custody for a misdemeanor, she was stripped naked by deputies, pepper sprayed, and left naked in a cell for nearly seven hours.
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The incident took place on March 30th, when 31-year-old Tabitha Gentry, of New Albany, was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, after an emotional fight with her estranged husband. She was taken to the Floyd County Jail and held on 2 misdemeanor charges.
Gentry appeared to be intoxicated and did not answer questions to the satisfaction of the deputies. In an effort to produce “submission through humiliation” — as attorney Laura Landenwich described — the jailers then strip-searched her, and paraded her around in front of other deputies, and left her nude in a room with no covering for the rest of the night.
Surveillance video shows much of the ordeal.
“Almost immediately upon entering the jail, she’s assaulted by four officers. They grab her around the neck, they grab her body,” Landenwich said to WDRB.
“They hold her down,” Landenwich continued. “There are two male officers and two female officers and they forceably remove her pants, her shoes, her underwear and her shirt and bra.”
Ms. Gentry was then hauled off to “the padded room.” Video shows she was pulled through a large open area in front of other officers, and then locked in solitary confinement.
The lawyer explained: “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.”
After 40 minutes of suffering the effects of caustic chemicals in her eyes and on her body, she was finally handcuffed and taken to wash out her eyes, Landenwich said. Again, her naked body was exposed to others.
“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.
After washing, she was again thrown naked into solitary confinement for an additional 5 hours.
The woman sat in jail nude from 4:14 a.m. until 10:58 a.m., the video confirms.
Gentry intends to sue the jail, citing excessive force and humiliating and unnecessary procedures that appear to be standard practice.
The Floyd County Sheriff Darrell Mills said he does not believe jail policies or procedures were violated, reported WAVE 3 News.
The allegations against the Floyd County Jail are similar to what happened Ashley Storms, who says she was also stripped and left naked while in jail, on misdemeanor charges. That case was settled, but the department seems to have not learned its lesson.