LAYTON, Utah – A woman is suing the city of Layton after she says a police officer wrongfully arrested her for DUI and groped her in the process.
The Layton Police Department however says it appears the officer in question did nothing wrong.
Footage from the July 25 incident shows the encounter between Amanda Houghton and an officer.
Houghton: “Don’t touch me!”
Houghton: “Don’t touch me!”
Officer: “I can search you, and that’s what I’m doing.”
Houghton said she had gone to pick up a medication for her son that day when she was rear-ended at a stop light by another car traveling at 30 to 40 miles per hour.
“I called 911 to get some officers’ help, and it went downhill from there,” she tells Fox 13 News.
The officer suspected Houghton was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and administered a field sobriety test. Houghton’s lawyer, Robert Sykes, said his client should not have been tested for sobriety under the circumstances.
“She had her bell rung, she was shaken up, no bones broken, but she was shaken up,” he said. “She was jittery and for whatever reason, this foolish officer thought he would do a field sobriety test on her.”
Houghton said she couldn’t believe it when they tested her.
“When they were doing the sobriety test I thought it was a joke,” she said. “I’ll just play along with it and get it over with and go home and take care of my kids.”
But what Sykes feels is just as egregious is that a female officer wasn’t called in to pat down his client.
“This is a bully cop, abusing his authority, and it shouldn’t happen,” he said.
Blood drawn from Houghton at the jail, and separate tests she had done at a hospital, came back negative for any traces of drugs or alcohol. Still, Houghton is being charged with DUI. Because litigation is pending, Layton Police say they can’t say much.
“From viewing the video, it does not look like the officer did anything unlawful,” Lt. Travis Lyman, a spokesman for the department, said.
Lyman says the Layton Police Department has only three female officers, so it’s unlikely one would be available whenever a female needs to be searched. He said that it’s common for a male to search a female.
But almost three months later, Houghton says she’s still traumatized.
“It was horrible, I was yelling at him to stop touching me,” she said. “’Get somebody here to watch you grope me,’ I think were my words, I felt very violated.”
While saying it appears the officer broke no laws, Layton police are looking for ways to improve.
“It does appear that she was startled by that, and so that’s part of what we’re examining internally: Is there an obligation on our part to make sure that somebody knows that we are about to conduct a search?” Lyman said.
A review of police policies is something Houghton thinks is long overdue.
“I want some changes, I would love to trust the police again,” she said.
Sykes says he has given Layton City a settlement proposal of behalf of Amanda Houghton, but says he hasn’t heard from the city.