Woman to file $12.5m lawsuit; claims Phoenix Police officer sexually assaulted her during search

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- A Phoenix woman plans to file a $12.5 million lawsuit against Phoenix Police, claiming she was sexually assaulted by a female officer during a body cavity search.

This is the second multi-million dollar lawsuit announced against the department this month, both stemming from allegations of police misconduct.

Phoenix Police officials have confirmed that 37-year-old Erica Reynolds was contacted by police on December 26, 2018. Officials also confirm that Reynolds was searched by an officer, and the department's Professional Standards Bureau did investigate the misconduct claim.

"They treated her body like a crime scene," said Parris Wallace with Poder In Action.

Flanked by activists and her attorney, Reynolds' story was made public. Reynolds claims she was sexually assaulted during an illegal search. Reynolds does have a criminal history that includes drug and assault charges. She was also convicted of a narcotics count and served a year and a half in prison. This time, Phoenix Police officials said Reynolds was part of an 18-month-long drug investigation. and she was seen meeting a known dealer on Broadway Road.

On December 26, 2018, investigators said they intercepted a phone call, telling the dealer she was going to hide drugs. Reynolds was later detained by police.

"Once at the station, officers brought Erica to what appeared to be an interrogation room," said Wallace. "And then, on instructions from the officers, she bent over as a female officer probed and searched the most sensitive parts of her body. Erica began to cry."

According to Phoenix Police Department policy, officers are not allowed to search body cavities, as those can only be done with a warrant or consent, and a medical doctor must perform the search. Officials said an internal affairs investigation was immediately launched into the allegation of misconduct by the officer, and officials said that officer will face discipline.

"Our bodies are not to be treated this way without consent," said Wallace. "Erica begged that officer to stop."

According to Phoenix Police official, an internal affairs investigation into the officer's misconduct claim is near complete, and the officer will face discipline.