Police insert fingers into woman's vagina to search for drugs, in public

BRENDAN J. LYONS
Albany Times Union
Tuesday, March 4, 2008

ALBANY-- The cops in the marked patrol car had circled through West Hill a couple times keeping an eye on their female target.
They were part of the Street Drug Unit, an aggressive squad assigned to help rid Albany's neighborhoods of drug dealers and addicts blamed for much of the city's problems.

It was early evening and already dark when the patrol car's emergency lights flashed in the rearview mirror of Lisa Shutter's Mitsubishi sedan on Quail Street, just off Central Avenue.

Police records show the officers called out a "Signal 38" to alert a dispatcher they were onto something suspicious and about to pull someone over. They would later write in a report that they had pulled her over for "failure to signal," although no ticket was issued, according to police records shared with the Times Union.

The actions of police in the minutes that followed would end in controversy rather than with an arrest. They would also leave Shutter, a 28-year-old single mother from Ravena, shaken and angry after one of the officers allegedly inserted his finger into Shutter's vagina on a public street during an apparent search for drugs.

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When it was over, "I pulled off down the road and I just cried for probably a half hour," Shutter said. "I called my dad. ... I felt like I had been basically raped."

The incident has triggered an ongoing internal affairs investigation by the Albany Police Department.

But the handling of that investigation has raised questions about whether the department has sought to cover up the incident. Shutter claims Burris Beattie, a commander in internal affairs, dissuaded her from reporting the incident to a civilian police oversight board.

The board, which was formed in 2001 in response to community concerns about the handling of internal police investigations, is empowered to monitor cases involving claims of brutality and civil rights violations against any officer.

"He said they (internal affairs) would do a better job," Shutter said, recounting her conversation with Beattie. "He said they would like to keep it 'internal' ... that that's how they like to handle things."

Full article here.

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