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$150,000 Settlement in Strip Search Suit by Jail’s Juvenile Visitors

The District of Columbia paid $150,000 to settle the lawsuit of Marcus Bradley, a minor, for injuries sustained from false arrest.

While attending school at W. Bruce Evans Middle School on May 17, 2001, Bradley, along with eleven other students went on a tour of the D.C. Jail. These students were between 13 and 14 years old. After going through a metal detector inside the jail, the students were told by Warden Patricia Britton-Jackson, that everyone who enters the jail must be strip searched. The officers took the children to another part of the jail to watch a strip search of an adult male prisoner in full view of the children, other prisoners, and officers. Afterward, the children were informed that it was “their turn” and ordered to undress.

The children all protested and refused to undress, so officers decided to make an example of one child. They grabbed the student and, while several adult prisoners along with school staff watched, forcibly removed the child’s clothes, stripping him naked. Officers then forcibly dressed him in a jail jumpsuit and put him in a cell with an adult prisoner. Turning back to the other children, including Marcus Bradley, the officers stated that if they did not immediately strip naked they would receive the same treatment, and that they would be confined with adult prisoners who would “pump your butt,” and tear your “ass up for a cigarette.”

The children, including Bradley, still refused to take their clothes off. The officers forcibly removed the students’ clothes one child at a time, in full view of adult officers, prisoners and school staff. Bradley was forced to stand naked on a table, bend over, spread his buttocks, lift his penis and scrotum, lift his arms, and open his mouth for inspection.

His complaint alleged Fourth Amendment violations, denial of due process, denial of privacy, failure to train, supervise, and control officers and school staff, emotional distress, false arrest and imprisonment, negligence, loss of consortium, and assault and battery. Stephanie M. Wagner, Bradley’s mother, accepted settlement on July 31, 2003. The family was represented by Washington D.C. attorney Chukwuma Odelugo. See: Wagner v. District of Columbia, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, Case No. cv-00965.

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Related legal case

Wagner v. District of Columbia