You Can Beat The Rap, But You Can't Beat The Genital Groping
In the movies, a good ol' de-pantsing scene usually gets a round of laughs. But it's not funny when it happens in real life and the cops are the ones accused of doing it on the side of a highway in front of passing motorists.
Willis resident John Lagway is suing the city of Conroe and two of its police officers for allegedly pulling him over for no reason along Interstate 45 and then de-pantsing him and groping his "testicles, penis and anus," according to the lawsuit Lagway filed in Houston federal court. What's more, alleges Lagway, the incident was caught on the officers' video camera, but the city refuses to let Lagway see the evidence.
According to the lawsuit, Lagway, an auto mechanic, was driving north on I-45 to his shop in Willis after picking up a set of car rims in Houston for a customer who needed them that day, June 5, 2007. Suddenly, he found himself being pulled over by officers with the Conroe Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Lagway, who, according to the lawsuit, had never been arrested for a crime, could not figure out why he was stopped. The police then asked Lagway if they could search his car for illegal drugs. Within a few minutes, cops from the Willis police department showed up with a dog.
Lagway accuses the Conroe officers of patting him down, handcuffing him and putting him in the backseat of their squad car for 45 minutes as they searched Lagway's truck. The officers "tore open the boxes containing the rims, jacked up the pickup and went underneath, and thoroughly scoured the pickup inside and out," states the lawsuit. When the officers did not find anything illegal, Lagway alleges, the Conroe officers searched and groped Lagway's genitals with his pants down "in full view of the slow moving backed up traffic on I-45 and the female passenger sitting in the DPS squad car."
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After more than an hour, Lagway was let free without a ticket or an apology, according to the lawsuit. Lagways claims he has suffered embarrassment, shame, anxiety, fear and anger because of what he says was done to him.
Steven Selbe, attorney for both the city of Conroe and the officer accused of groping Lagway, says the traffic stop did not go down the way Lagway claims. "When you look at the video tape," says Selbe, "and then you look at the allegations, it's clear that there are some large exaggerations being made in the complaint."
Lagway and his attorney, Randall Kallinen, would love nothing more than to see the video tape. But the city will not let them. Lagway filed a Texas Public Information Act Request to see the tape, but the Texas Attorney General ruled that the city did not have to let Lagway see it. And so the case is proceeding in federal court.
Lagway is claiming, among several allegations, that his Constitutional right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure was violated.