When new mother Zoe Brugger was stopped by Florida police last month for driving with a broken headlight, the police discovered she had a suspended license as well. That's when the police asked her to lift up her shirt, flip up her underwire and shake out her bra. Twice.
The state attorney representing Polk County in Florida is now reviewing the case, calling the police officer's actions "highly questionable," "demeaning," as well as "ineffective and possibly dangerous," reports the local paper The Lakeland Ledger.
The police were convinced they'd find drugs on Brugger or in her car on the May 21st stop, Brugger told WTSP News.
He was set on finding something and my rights were not going to stand in his way.
He kept asking if we had anything in the car, he kept saying I looked way too nervous.
I felt pretty degraded and humiliated. I was being forced to do this right in the middle of the road.
Brugger did not consent to a search of the car nor did she want to lift up her shirt, but she felt threatened and wanted to go home to her newborn child, reports The Lakeland Ledger. She shook out her shirt twice, then consented to a search, and then retracted her consent. The Lakeland police officer searched the car anyway, as well as her boyfriend who was in the car. He found no drugs. Brugger told WTSP News that the officer then threatened to send her to jail until her stepfather, a retired attorney, got involved.
Finally, the officer issued Brugger a ticket to appear in court and told her, "I'm done scaring you, and now you can go home."
This may not be the first time this kind of stop has happened in the area. The state attorney noted that a recent DUI search ended with a woman threatening to have an officer fired for sexual harassment following a similar search. "It's a possibility that it's a widespread issue in a very large agency and appears to be a major training deficiency," the attorney told The Lakeland Ledger.
The officer who searched Brugger was put on four days of paid leave as punishment.