Video: Footage shows alleged Wiggins police abuse of female inmate at Stone County jail
A woman's screams can be heard on a surveillance video from the Stone County jail, where she claims Wiggins police assaulted her in racially motivated violations of her civil rights.
The video is one of four reviewed by the Sun Herald involving Daphine Doreene Alford. She is suing Wiggins, its mayor, police chief and two police officers who allegedly arrested her without cause Jan. 24, 2013, and assaulted her physically and emotionally.
Alford is black. The two officers named in the lawsuit are white.
The lawsuit, filed Jan. 20 in U.S. District Court, claims Alford was intentionally tripped and body slammed face-first on an entrance walkway to the jail, causing a concussion and damaging her teeth.
Alford alleges she was choked, and was touched inappropriately as one of the officers pinned her down and helped strip off her clothes in view of other male officers. She claims she was pepper-sprayed, was not decontaminated, and later had to use water from a toilet bowl to rinse her burning eyes, nose and mouth.
In one video, she was nude when she was taken out of a cell for an unspecified reason, then put back in her cell.
A female corrections officer tried to intervene during the strip-search, said Alford's attorney, James Halliday.
In screams heard in one video, Alford is complaining that police had knocked out her teeth and that one of the officers had pulled down her pants. "Get off my face!" she said repeatedly.
While Alford was gagging over the pepper spray and moaning from the pain of her bloody mouth, the officers were laughing, joking and concocting false felony charges that accused her of assaulting them, Halliday said.
Alford had been standing on a street corner with a friend and she was drunk and disorderly when two male officers frisked her, saying they were looking for paraphernalia, the lawsuit said. The officers touched her inappropriately and said she had paraphernalia, the suit said.
Police took her to the jail and then filed felony charges alleging she had assaulted them.
Alford was incarcerated 33 days on the officers' false assault charges, her attorney said. A Stone County sheriff's investigator intervened, and she was taken before a justice court judge and was released from jail. The felony charges filed by the officers have not been prosecuted.
Halliday said one of the officers, Randy Vinson, was fired, and the other officer, Douglas McBride, was allowed to resign. Halliday said the city's police chief has told him Vinson was fired over a policy violation involving procedures that say officers cannot strip-search detainees of the opposite sex.
The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in compensatory and punitive damages for false arrest, excessive force and improper incarceration.
Summonses have been issued to the defendants, but it wasn't clear Monday if they have been served.
Minority leaders in the community have complained to officials that police have abused black residents and the disabled, but officials have not listened, Halliday said.
The city recently settled a federal lawsuit with Jack Smith Jr., a disabled man who accused Wiggins police of assaulting him in incidents filmed by security cameras in city court and by a cell phone.
Halliday handled that case and has also provided city officials a notice of intent to file a lawsuit alleging police abuse of a woman in her 60s.