Sunday, May 25, 2014

Probation for ex-trooper charged over roadside cavity searches

Via the Dallas News ("Former DPS trooper gets probation, fine for illegal body cavity searches," May 23), we learn of a dissatisfyingly ambiguous outcome from the infamous 2012 episode when a Texas state trooper performed roadside cavity searches caught on dashcam video:
A former state trooper was sentenced to probation and fined Friday for performing illegal roadside body cavity searches on two women that were described as “humiliating and shamefully embarrassing.”

State District Judge Dominique Collins sentenced Kelly Helleson, 34, at the recommendation of Dallas County prosecutors after Helleson pleaded guilty to two counts of official oppression. She received a year in jail — which was suspended — and instead will serve two years of supervised probation. She must also pay a $2,000 fine. Two counts of sexual assault against Helleson were dropped.

The convictions stem from a July 13, 2012, traffic stop on the side of State Highway 161 near Irving. Angel Dobbs and her niece Ashley Dobbs were pulled over after state trooper David Farrell said he saw the women throw something out the window, according to the complaint.

Farrell called Helleson to perform the searches, which the women said she did using the same latex glove and in full view of passing motorists. The searches were captured on dashboard video camera.
 But Russell Wilson, special fields bureau chief with the [Dallas] district attorney’s office, said Helleson confessed the crime to authorities. ...
Following the incident, the Department of Public Safety changed its policy to prohibit troopers from conducting body cavity searches without search warrants.

Helleson, a state trooper for 10 years, was fired after the search and lost her peace officer’s license. Her attorney, Bob Baskett, said Friday that she has no desire to get back into law enforcement “after this crap.” ...
Farrell was indicted but later acquitted on a charge of theft by a public servant for allegedly stealing a bottle of hydrocodone pills during the search of the Dobbses’ car. DPS officials said last year that he would return to “full-duty status.”
Last June, the two victims received a $185,000 settlement from the state in a federal civil rights lawsuit. After Friday’s hearing, Angel Dobbs, 39, said she was disappointed with Helleson’s probation sentence.
Considering prosecutors walked in the door seeking felony sexual assault charges, walking out with probation and a $2,000 fine for a misdemeanor is a significant step-down, despite all the self-congratulatory rhetoric from the Dallas DA's office. Perhaps, given that DPS changed its policies after this and similar episodes to eliminate roadside cavity searches, Hellerson's claims that she was following DPS training carried some substance. We won't learn those details from the legal process, though, since the case resulted in a plea deal rather than a jury trial. Lots of records are newly available about the case under the Public Information Act now that the criminal cases are finished. This'd be a good spot for journalism to pick up the ball.


john said...

If we had a decent mainstream media, they would be on these abuses so that a majority of citizens might know. I think very few people ever hear but a blurb on entertainment local "news." Those in power offer little oversight. Only the public can defend itself, with cameras and getting the word out.
It's shameful, terrifying and shocks the conscience.

Anonymous said...

As with most law enforcement abuses of the citizenry, you couldn't get the same penalty if you tried! Nurses cover for each other and for some doctors, and they are often threatened by hospital management / head nurses to keep quiet about massive mistakes that cost the lives of patients. Law enforcement and the entire judicial system operate the same way.

rodsmith said...

Must be nice. If anyone and I mean ANYONE else had done that. It would be sexual assault at a minimum.

I still think it's a pity a passerby didn't pull over and drop his ass for the crime of sexual assault in progress.

Anonymous said...

Who in their right mind would want to work for the Texas Department of Public Safety knowing that they'll teach you to do things you could potentially be incarcerated for? Can't wait until the media analyzes this one. Seems to be a hot topic picking up steam in the law enforcement forums.

Anonymous said...

Never been a cop that can not be bought or shot

Anonymous said...

There is an oath these folks take before they can be awarded a commission. I wish they would change it to reflect reality. The words "law, United States" and "constitution" could be dropped and "policy and procedure" and "protect my agency" be substituted.

Anonymous said...

If a regular citizen did this, they would be a sex offender for life.

Anonymous said...

I think you are all missing the point. Evidence suggests that DPS was teaching their people to do this as two separate instances occurred in two different areas of the state. Naturally, they sell their own down the river after a small "policy" change. One of them even got her job back because of the argument that this was what she was taught. The other gets a criminal sentence. This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Certainly sends a bold face message to active DPS personnel: Even if we tell you to do it, you can still go to prison.

rodsmith said...

actually 12:32 they can think the United Stated Gov. They killed for all time the excuse of "I was just following orders" during the trials following WW2.

Sorry but since then the rule has been "If you know the order is illegal and you follow it. Your just as guilty as the one who issued it."

our problem here is that usually refuse to go after either the one stupid enough to do it or the criminal who issued it.

Anonymous said...

Does this make the former 'only one' a prohibited person for purposes of firearms acquisition and possession?

Will this individual be able to hire on at some other cop shop?

Dwight Brown said...

"Does this make the former 'only one' a prohibited person for purposes of firearms acquisition and possession?"

According to Section 39 of the code, it looks like the official oppression in this case was a Class A misdemeanor, which I believe does not disqualify them from owning firearms.

If I understand the law correctly, they would be disqualified from obtaining a concealed carry permit for five years from the date of the conviction.

Anonymous said...

At the very minimum, she could have changed her gloves! Now that's offensive.

Anonymous said...

I'm calling Bullshit! These two committed crimes and thanks to loopholes (Plea Bargain Games & Bribery / Settlements) allowed the courts to avoid seeking true justice. From day one, everyone knew damn good & well that the D.A's. Office would sale her some Probation & her finger-buddy would get off without a scratch but no one said shit until it was too late in the game.

Who knew that one could get fingerbanged and ripped off by cops and the courts would look the other way? We all did.

Folks are laughing their assess off at us and we deserve it. Don't Mess with Texas! or we will glove up and tickle your tonsils signs are going up as we comment.

I hope someone remembers these two gangbangers names and follows them and their careers as they try to shake off this organized criminal activity episode. They could end up on a bench in Harris County with all of the voting just to be voting. Or selling dash-cam porn out of a van down by the donut shop.

*After 'this' crap - If women of all ages and colors 'fail' to come out swinging in protest, we will assume they are cool with it and are looking forward to their day on the side of the road with Officer Latex Linda aka: Fingers.

No Protest = No Problem with a lil road side porn. They didn't place them in front of the camera for nothing. The two victims won't be protesting crap, cause they have some banking business to attend to thanks to the loophole and the taxpayers funded bribery account.

Patrick Rick, author, The Abbey & Me said...

Please turn to your right and cough. Now, turn to your left and cough again.