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New Mexico Police Spray Woman’s Vagina With Mace After Drug Arrest

Marlene Tapia has filed a civil rights lawsuit over the alleged incident at a detention center.
 
 
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A New Mexico woman was allegedly strip searched--and then had mace sprayed on her vagina, according to a federal lawsuit filed earlier this week.  The New Mexico news outlet KOB 4 reports that Marlene Tapia suffered from the ordeal for weeks after the incident.

The alleged incident occurred two years ago.  Tapia’s legal team, who called what the police did “tantamount to torture,” says it takes time to build a civil rights case and that they filed before the statute of limitations was up.

Tapia was arrested for a probation violation linked to a separate drug case.  While at the Metropolitan Detention Center, she was strip searched by officers, who found a plastic baggie “protruding from Tapia’s vagina,” according to KOB 4. That’s when officer Blanca Zapater sprayed mace on her vagina.  It caused severe pain to Tapia, including burning, swollen genitals and painful urination.

The American Civil Liberties Union’s New Mexico chapter has taken up the case.  Their director, Peter Simonson, said he was shocked by “the maliciousness, the wanton disregard, wanton maliciousness that the corrections officer demonstrated...This is the kind of chemical that is intended to be sprayed on other parts of the body, to cause pain, but to spray it on the very most sensitive part of a person’s body only doubles the pain.”

Simonson says the spraying violated his client’s Constitutional rights and jail policy.

The detention center refused to comment on the case, but confirmed that Blanca Zapater was a staff member and said she was disciplined over the mace spraying incident.

 

Alex Kane is AlterNet's New York-based World editor, and an assistant editor for Mondoweiss. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

 
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