AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — A house bill written in response to a controversial highway patrol cavity search in Irving has been approved.READ MORE: Police: Dallas Officer Arrested, Charged With Driving While Intoxicated
Lawmakers’ unanimous voice vote Monday came two years after the state settled a federal civil rights lawsuit for $185,000 with two women whose genitals were probed by a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper.
In June 2012, two women were pulled over for allegedly throwing a cigarette butt out their vehicle’s window. On the police officer dash cam, female state trooper Kelly Helleson was shown putting on a surgical glove before reaching into each woman’s pants and conducting the search alongside a George Bush Turnpike exit ramp. The same glove was used on each woman.
On the video, one of the victims is heard telling Helleson, “I was totally violated over there a few minutes ago, I had a finger in my ass, and a finger in my pee-pee.” In response, the women filed a federal lawsuit against the Texas Department of Public Safety.READ MORE: US Border Agents Receiving Help On Custody Work, Returning To Field
After the women came forward and went public with their story, the Texas Department of Public Safety suspended both troopers and fired Helleson, claiming that the cavity search of the two women was illegal.
In 2014, Helleson admitted that she is guilty of two charges of official oppression. As part of her deal with the Dallas County District Attorney’s office, prosecutors dropped sexual assault charges against her. The prosecution revealed that the DPS changed their training standards for searches, prohibiting all cavity searches without a warrant.
Although officers rarely conduct a vaginal or anal cavity search, the bill would make all searches without a warrant illegal. But just how uncommon is this practice? After the 2014 hearing, one of the District Attorney’s top prosecutors, Russell Wilson, confirmed they investigated similar videos of Helleson’s past searches.
The measure, H.B. 324, needs a ceremonial House voting before progressing to the Senate. If passed, it would take effect in November.MORE NEWS: US Ramps Up Plan To Expel Thousands Of Haitian Migrants Gathered In Texas
(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)