NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has settled a lawsuit with two women from Irving who filed a lawsuit claiming they were humiliated and the victims of an illegal “cavity search”, during a traffic stop last July.
Attorney Scott Palmer said his client Angel Dobbs and her niece, Ashley Dobbs, received a settlement of $185,000 in the federal civil rights case. “I think DPS came to the table, they did the right thing,” Palmer said. “They recognized this was a bad case that needed to go away.”
The Dobbs women were pulled over while taking a ‘road trip’ to Oklahoma. Trooper David Farrell said he stopped the pair because they had thrown cigarette butts out of their car window and were acting weird.
Trooper Farrell claimed he smelled marijuana coming from the vehicle and performed a search, but turned up nothing. He then called female Trooper Kelly Helleson, who proceeded to do a very personal cavity search to see if the women were hiding illegal items.
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The women said Helleson proceeded to use her fingers to search their anuses and vaginas, and used the same latex glove on both women. The aunt and niece said the very personal body searches happened on the side of the road, in full view of passing vehicles.
With both the search by Trooper Farrell and Trooper Helleson coming up fruitless, a roadside sobriety test was performed, which Angel Dobbs passed. Eventually the women were given a warning for littering and sent on their way.
Attorney Palmer said the action of the troopers was reprehensible and illegal and that the six-figure settlement is not only good for his clients, but other potential victims as well. “It will deter any future misconduct by any police officer or trooper in the future, for sure. That’s part of why they brought this lawsuit,” he said. “This will probably never happen again because of this lawsuit and the attention this has gotten.”
Trooper Kelly Helleson was fired earlier this year and has been charged with two counts of sexual assault and two counts of official oppression. If convicted, she would have to register as a sex offender.
Trooper David Farrell was suspended while officials investigated allegations that he took a prescription bottle of the painkiller hydrocodone from one of the women during the roadside search.
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