In 2015, Charneisha Corley was pulled over while running an errand and subsequently strip-searched, forced to her knees naked and in handcuffs on the side of the road and invasively searched by Texas police officers for 11 minutes.
The officers claimed it was because they smelled marijuana in Corley’s car. She was 20 years old at the time.
Dash-cam footage of her ordeal showed what Corley’s lawyers called “rape by cop,” and served as evidence in the civil rights lawsuit Corley brought against Harris County. According to the Huffington Post’s description of the footage:
An officer “body slammed Miss Corley, stuck her head underneath the vehicle and completely pulled her pants off, leaving her naked and exposed in that Texaco parking lot,” Cammack said. “They then took Miss Corley and placed both ankles behind her ears spread eagle position and started to search for something in Miss Corley’s cavity in her vaginal area.”
“That was extreme, to pull my clothes down, in front of people,” Corley can be heard saying on the video after the search. “People were watching. You didn’t see people walking around?”
“I’m traumatized,” Corley said in an interview with HuffPo in 2017. “It was humiliating. I feel like the law is supposed to protect you and not do this. I just don’t feel safe anymore. My self-esteem has literally dropped and I can’t even step out and be seen because I feel so embarrassed.”
The case has now been settled for $185,000, a number many claim is far too low.
According to Fox, County Commissioner Rodney Ellis described what happened to Corley as “a tragedy,” and stated:
I have three daughters, one who is about her age and if that happened to my daughter I’d use all the resources I could muster to try and get justice and send a signal out. Now how the County ended up settling it for this mere pittance, I don’t know.
All three of the deputies involved in the case are also still on the county payroll, and none of them were reportedly charged, which is what prompted the release of the dash camera footage on her attorney’s website.
Some see the settlement as far from a victory, saying it could set a dangerous precedent for police corruption going forward.
“I think the powers that be are going to say to themselves, if we can do that, something so egregious as sexually assaulting a young woman on the side of the road, who did not deserve that, if we can do that and avoid prosecution and pay crumbs in a settlement, well why should we be concerned or be afraid of anything?” activist Quanell X said in an interview with Fox News.