August 24, 2013 in Region

Puyallup sued over videos taken of jail inmates

Associated Press
 

PUYALLUP, Wash. – Twelve people are suing the city of Puyallup over video they say was inappropriately recorded of them while they were undressing or using the toilet at the city jail after being arrested for misdemeanor DUI.

Eleven women and one man filed the personal-injury lawsuit Thursday in Pierce County Superior Court, the News Tribune reported Friday. They’re seeking unspecified damages for alleged civil rights violations and invasion of privacy.

Police Capt. Scott Engle said city officials have committed no wrongdoing. The city is defending the practice of recording inmates and DUI defendants, and officials said corrections officers are not sitting around watching people change their clothes or use the toilet.

Engle and city attorney Kevin Yamamoto said videotaping inmates is common practice at jails across the nation. Engle added defendants have no expectation of privacy when brought to jail.

Attorneys James Egan and Julie Kays said their clients were arrested on misdemeanor DUI charges that normally do not involve a person being booked into jail. Still, Puyallup jailers forced them to change out of their civilian clothes into jail uniforms, they said.

Many of the women were directed to change inside a holding cell monitored by a security camera, the lawsuit contends. Egan released still photographs captured from the recordings to reporters. They show the plaintiffs in various states of undress or using the toilet. Sensitive areas were blacked out by Egan before he turned over the photographs.

In one case, a jailer allegedly asked one of the women who had changed into the jail uniform to go back into the cell and remove her underwear as well, saying it was jail protocol, Egan told reporters.

“What possible security reason could they have … she’s going to hang herself with her panties?” Egan said. “She’s about to be released and out the door.”

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