WRAL Investigates

Strip search complaint prompts Wayne sheriff's office changes

Posted July 7, 2011

WRAL Investigates
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— The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office is implementing new policies after WRAL News investigated a man’s claim that he was strip searched on the side of a highway last month.

Brandon Cline, of Goldsboro, said two law enforcement officers pulled him over on U.S. Highway 70 “for supposedly speeding.”

Sgt. Matt Miller and Deputy Jeremy Hooker stopped Cline around 12:30 p.m. on June 9. They said his windows were tinted too dark and asked to search his car, according to Cline, who agreed to the search.

Miller and Hooker said they found marijuana, which Cline denies ever having.

“And then they told me to drop my pants for a strip search. I said, ‘You gotta be kidding me.’ They said, ‘If you don’t do it, you’ll be tased,’” Cline recalled. “(I dropped my) pants, boxers, everything down to my ankles.”

Man: Traffic stop included threat, strip search Man: Traffic stop included threat, strip search

Captain Richard Lewis said his men performed the strip search behind their patrol cars so passing motorists couldn’t see Cline’s exposed body.

The sheriff’s office denies threatening Cline with a Taser, but acknowledges there is no dashboard camera video to prove it either way. The dash cam in one car was broken and the other hadn't been installed, according to Lewis.

The other issue that can’t be proven is whether Cline had marijuana in his car. The authorities who claimed to have found it never collected the drugs as evidence.

“They didn’t write me a citation for anything. They just told me to have a good day,” Cline said.

When asked why Cline wasn't cited or charged, Lewis said law enforcement officers are allowed to use their discretion.

Defense attorney Robert Nunley examined the case, at the request of WRAL, and described it as “an excessive use of force situation.”

“The first thing people need to realize is that you have the right not to consent to a search of your vehicle,” he said.

For those who get pulled over, Nunley suggests stopping in a well-lit area and calling 911 if something seems odd about the traffic stop.

“Ninety-nine percent of officers are by the book,” he said. However, if officers suspect drugs are in someone’s car, they typically don’t make the person get naked on the side of the road, he said.

“A strip search is generally done back at a police department in a room where privacy is afforded to you,” Nunley said.

Lewis says the sheriff's office did an internal investigation into Cline's traffic stop and strip search. Miller and Hooker, who are part of a drug enforcement team, are still employed, but new policies are now in place. Dash cameras must be working and any evidence from a search must be collected.

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  • sunneyone Jul 12, 2011

    This is one of those times where a lawsuit is more than appropriate.

  • kota069 Jul 8, 2011

    "As the Good Ole USA becomes more and more a socialist country you will see the law enforcement become more and more like the Nazi SS and the Old East German Stasi, but as usual the state and the county will get away with things like this as it is the new American way."
    dannymitchell
    July 8, 2011 5:28 p.m.

    Thumbs up!
    You're EXACTLY right.

  • unblankenbelievable Jul 8, 2011

    I wonder if this had been a female, they would have strip searched her too. I don't think so. What a double standard!

  • Love my boys Jul 8, 2011

    "NO! They have no right to search your car without probable cause, and you should never let them..." Hans July 8, 2011 3:57 p.m.

    You're right - they can't search my car without probable cause. However, I'm not a drug dealer. I don't drink and drive. I occasionally speed. 98% of the time, I have at least 1 child with me. So search away! I have always conducted myself with composure when being stopped. Guess what - I've never been asked to consent to a search of my vehicle or my person. I've always responded with "Yes sir" or "No sir" when responding to questions. If you give respect, you earn respect. I have never been arrested or even handcuffed let alone made to get out of my car because I have respect for people that are in law enforcement. Grant it, there are a few bad apples but you see that in every job! Sad part is, the bad ones get all the attention while the good ones are continually ignored until they're either injured or killed.

  • dannymitchell Jul 8, 2011

    As the Good Ole USA becomes more and more a socialist country you will see the law enforcement become more and more like the Nazi SS and the Old East German Stasi, but as usual the state and the county will get away with things like this as it is the new American way.

  • bryanpam Jul 8, 2011

    Being a cop is actually not a very dangerous job. On the road salesmen get killed on the job at a much higher rate than cops do. Search "dangerous jobs" on the internet and you'll see that police officers are not even in the top ten.

  • skinnygranny Jul 8, 2011

    "Im pretty sure it was not because the deputies enjoyed the actions..." MOMMY OF 3

    What evidence do you have that they didn't enjoy it? You're "pretty sure" because of what?

  • skinnygranny Jul 8, 2011

    ""If an officer asks to search my car, feel free. I have nothing to hide." - Love my boys"

    I got nothing to hide either. But the Constitution and Bill of Rights says I do not have to strip in the road an let some punk cop check how many dingleberries I have on my rear.

    If he's that much into it, there are plenty of sites on the web where he can enjoy that sort of thing.

  • skinnygranny Jul 8, 2011

    lawDOG: " Then ask yourself if you would be willing to put your life on the line for a stranger"

    IF THE ANSWER IS NO THEN GO FIND ANOTHER JOB.

    JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE DOING A DANGEROUS JOB IS NOT A LICENSE TO ABUSE PEOPLE, VIOLATE THEIR RIGHTS, AND HUMILIATE THEM.

    WalMart is always needing a new door greeter.

  • thelawdawg Jul 8, 2011

    I have reached the point where I don't trust anything in the MEDIA. It is best to reserve judgment until you hear all the facts. The poor officers who risk their lives every night, for low pay, deserve at least that.
    ericevenson

    At least someone has some common sense. everyone wants to pass judgement with out all the facts. People I have an Idea go to your local Law Enforcement Agency and request a ride-a-long then you can see what happens in just one day in the live of an Officer. Then ask yourself if you would be willing to put your life on the line for a stranger. It sure isnt because of what we get paid which aint didly. It is a passion for others that we do this every single time we leave our wives and children to go out and protect someone we dont even know and then belittles us because we didnt do a good enough job.

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