Transgender Woman Sues D.C. Police; Claims Harassment While Jailed With Men
A Washington, D.C., transgender woman is suing the Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service, saying she was improperly housed with male inmates after being arrested in 2009.
Patti Hammond Shaw says she turned herself in at a police station June 18, 2009, after she received a letter saying there was a warrant for her arrest on charges of making a false police report, the Washington Blade reports. Shaw, who has had gender-reassignment surgery and possesses documents stating she is legally a woman, was still placed in a cell in the men’s section, where the men “asked to see her vagina, breasts and buttocks,” according to her suit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages.
She was then remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, where officers also insisted she was a man, and her suit says one marshal “groped her breasts, buttocks and between her legs repeatedly and excessively.” Placed in a holding cell with about 30 men, she was verbally harassed, touched inappropriately, and forced to urinate in a cup in front of them, she says.
The suit also says the law enforcement authorities failed to adhere to their own policies for handling transgender detainees. The D.C. police adopted a policy in 2007 mandating that transgender detainees be placed in a holding cell by themselves, and authorities are also required to remain cognizant of a detainee’s gender identity, the Blade reports.
Neither the police nor the marshals’ service responded to the Blade’s request for comment. Shaw’s attorney, Jeffrey Light, says he has met with Michael Hughes, a gay man who serves as U.S. marshal for D.C. Superior Court, and they discussed how to improve treatment of transgender prisoners. Hughes has sought input from the D.C. Trans Coalition on this, Light adds.