Strippers sue cops claiming abuse during inspection

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SAN DIEGO — Thirty women who claim they were mistreated by police during inspections of two strip clubs in Kearny Mesa sued the city of San Diego and police Chief Shelley Zimmerman Wednesday.

“They had certain girls just strip down to nothing,” said a dancer, who  goes by the name of Brittany Murphy.

CheetahsStripperMost of the women, who were employees of Cheetahs and Expose, claim they were held against their will during license compliance inspections on March 6. The remaining two plaintiffs made the same allegations about a raid conducted on July 15, 2013.

Cheetah’s general manager said they expect the raids, but this time the cops crossed the line.

“The fact that they were partially dressed, the way they were spoken to. It wasn’t the first time and won’t be the last time, but the way they were treated  – they were treated like second class citizens,” the GM said.

City officials declined to comment on the suit, which alleges that officers blocked exits from the club while others went into the dancer’s dressing rooms.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer Dan Gilleon alleged the women were interrogated and photographed while nearly nude.

Some of the officers “made arrogant and demeaning comments to the entertainers, and ordered them to expose body parts so that they could ostensibly photograph their tattoos,” the suit filed in San Diego Superior Court alleged.

Gilleon said his clients did not consent to the photographs or detention.

The clubs — Expose is on Kearny Mesa Road and Cheetahs is on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard — and dancers are subject to occasional police inspections as a condition of a city-issued license.

After the women filed claims against the city a few months ago, SDPD spokesman Lt. Kevin Mayer told reporters that cataloging tattoos is an important tool for identifying adult entertainers, who can change their appearance with a wig, makeup or colored contact lenses.

Zimmerman was named in the lawsuit because of her status as chief of police, but she’d been in the job only a few days before the inspections took place.

Gilleon claimed Zimmerman knew of, or later ratified, the actions of the officers that deprived his clients of their rights against unreasonable searches and seizures, and made or approved of the decision to photograph the women.

The lawyer is asking for unspecified damages to compensate for emotional distress, pain and suffering.

15 comments

  • Dr. Goldstein

    Talk about walking into a fun job as the new chief !

    800 officers can retire with super generous retirements in the next 3 years.

    How many of the other 500 or so officers with under 6 years might be looking to jump to a higher paying department and collected a bonus ? 499 ?

  • Fred

    So let me get this straight…..you’re a nude dancer who makes money from showing your junk to slobbering drunk discusting men with no lives but you’re upset that an officer who has the right to photograph you (you sign the agreement when obtaining your dancing license)? That ambulance chasing attorney is a nut! Giving these women hope they’ll make free money by suing the city and SDPD…..Liberals….what has this world come too?

    • Bernie

      That wonderful attorney is representing the female victims of the alleged sexual assaults by GUESS WHO. Those men in blue. Fred, it is not liberal or conservative it is Human Rights versus no human rights. When there are no Human Rights respected, there can be a Holocaust. As a Holocaust survivor from Auschwitz, I am saying citizens need these lawyers.

    • DavidM

      The women agree to license checks; they do not agree to be lined up, told to strip naked and pose for cameras, while some authority figure says "yeah, just like that sweetheart," or "that's just the way I like it." For some reason, law enforcement pride themselves on their professional attitude but then think nothing of their lack of professionalism when doing their job with members of the public. Those clubs should all have surveillance cameras too; I can't wait until the SDPD denials are contradicted by the video

  • devilswork

    Lt. Kevin Mayer I thought you took pictures of tatoos on criminals?? Are these girls criminals or gang members?? I think the cops are the criminals here, and they wonder why we don't trust of respect you!
    I hope they win BIG TIME. The cops are crooks!

  • Anonymous

    Strippers who dance around nude in front of strange men deserve it!!!!!! What do you expect to happen? Do they think people are going to treat them with respect?

  • turdburner

    Bernie……right……..so your 90 years old reading online? Sorry, I doubt that. I'm 30 and I was in the Vietnam conflict! See how stupid that sounds?

  • eric

    Is SDPD spending your tax dollars wisely

    Send this to the mayor if you want a little more freedom and less police state

    kevinfaulconer@sandiego.gov

    Dear [Name],

    As a registered voter and tax-paying citizen of San Diego, I would like to voice my concern over the misuse of taxpayers’ money to fund vice raids on adult entertainment venues.

    I was shocked to learn that officers are carrying out undercover sting operations in strip clubs to monitor the violation of the antiquated no-touch ordinance. Such operations use taxpayers’ money to fund entry to strip clubs and buy drinks and dances for the officers. The club is then monitored to ensure that patrons and dancers do not touch at any point during their interaction.

    I believe this to be a gross misuse of taxpayers’ money, which would be better-spent addressing harmful criminal activity such as drug dealing, human trafficking, and street robbery. The focus on a petty infraction of touch between dancer and patron in a strip club is ridiculous when considering the real crime issues facing our city.

    I urge you to use your influence to stop the San Diego Police Department wasting taxpayers’ money and police time, and insist that they turn the focus toward tackling illegal business dealings that don’t pay tax and fund criminal activity in our city.

    Regards,

    [Name]

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