When most people call the police for help, there is some expectation that the responding officers will protect the people rather than take advantage of them. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to a woman in Myrtle Beach. The City of Myrtle Beach and its law enforcement agency recently came under fire in a lawsuit over allegations that an officer took non-consensual photos of a woman responding to a phone call last summer.
Police car on the street; Image by Matt Popovich via Unsplash.com.
The lawsuit, filed on February 5, alleges “two Myrtle Beach police officers responded to an apartment complex on Hawthorne Lane to investigate a domestic violence complaint against July 23, 2020.” Plaintiff Jane Doe witnessed a number of events. After a brief discussion with the officers, one of the officers left the apartment, leaving the woman alone with the other officer, Justin Vazquez. Vasquez is the defendant in the lawsuit. While they were alone, Vazquez continued to discuss with the plaintiff the events that sparked the call: “What she saw and whether she had a video surveillance camera in her home,” according to court documents. The suit also claims that Vazquez “came to a table where the plaintiff was standing and picked up her dress while holding a cell phone camera under her clothes”. In response, Jane Doe “moved to another part of her kitchen and the defendant left the apartment.”
Shortly after, Vasquez returned with the other officer and asked Doe to fill out a testimony. When she finished, Vasquez read the statement, “but decided that some things needed to be added and the plaintiff needed to make the corrections and / or additions.” The lawsuit goes on to say:
“While she was standing in the plaintiff’s apartment making the corrections / additions to her testimony, Officer Vazquez again stepped behind the plaintiff, took his cell phone and again lifted the plaintiff’s dress and took a picture with his phone /”
Jane Doe then told officers that she had to “get ready to go out. At that point, the defendant left the apartment and she locked the door.” The suit says:
“According to information and beliefs, the defendants knew or should have known of Officer Vazquez’s inappropriate actions and / or propensity to harm women, including the plaintiff, but have not taken any action against Officer Vazquez.”
In addition to naming Vazquez, the town, and the police department, Amy Prock, Myrtle Beach Police Chief, is also named as a defendant. Jane Doe is currently seeking an unspecified amount of damages.
Lawsuit: The Myrtle Beach official took non-consensual photos of women when responding to a call
Lawsuit: Woman claims the Myrtle Beach officer took non-consensual photos of her during the investigation