A 33-year-old Montgomery County woman filed a complaint yesterday charging that she was treated brutally and strip-searched by county police in an incident that began when she was stopped for an automobile violation.
Police denied that the woman was strip-searched and denied her allegations of mistreatment.
In a letter that her lawyer said he mailed yesterday to Police Chief Bernard D. Crooke, the woman, Beatrice Turner of 18636 Walkers Choice Rd., Gaithersburg, said the alleged mistreatment came after she was stopped by a county police officer at 4 p.m. April 26 on Lost Knife Drive near her home for driving with expired license tags.
She said that instead of signing the citation, she began to question the address placed on it. After allotting her a brief period to sign the citation, she alleged in the letter, the officer "yanked me out of my car" and handcuffed her. She also complained that she struck her head on the police car and was shoved to the ground.
The woman's letter, which the lawyer, Robin Ficker, read to a reporter, also alleges that in the Germantown police station, a female officer "told me to take off all my clothes."
She also said her 9-year-old daughter was with her and that she was allowed to call a school teacher to come to the police station to pick the girl up.
According to court records, the woman was charged with resisting arrest and refusing to sign the citation for expired tags; a preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 7. She said she was held briefly at the County Detention Center in Rockville, where she said she was strip-searched again before being released on bond.
Sgt. Thomas Sittner, the arresting officer, denied that he pulled the woman from her car or knocked her to the ground. At one point, he said, she sat on the ground outside her car and had to be lifted and carried to a police car. He also said the woman was not strip-searched by police.
When she was taken into a holding room at the police station he said, "she began to disrobe without any command. . . She was foaming at the mouth, angry and screaming."
Police Chief Crooke has also denied that Turner was strip-searched.
Sgt. Harry Geehreng, a spokesman for the county police, said strip searches are authorized only "if there is a reasonable suspicion that there's means to escape, weapons, fruits of a crime or contraband."
Corrections officials said the woman was strip-searched at the jail in accordance with what they said was routine procedure.
After being released from the detention center, Turner said, she was driven by her husband to Holy Cross Hospital. A hospital spokesman said she was treated for multiple contusions and released. was treated for multiple contusions and released.