Irvine Police Sued for Alleged Civil-Rights 'Nightmare'

Two Los Angeles women have filed civil-rights lawsuits alleging that members of the Irvine Police Department unlawfully detained, searched and assaulted them, as well as forced one of them to urinate in her pants to the officers' amusement.

According to lawsuits by Stephanie M. Lofton and Helen Dehann, numerous Irvine police officers created an unnecessary and illegal “nightmare” during a May 28, 2010, late-night incident at the 5 freeway and Sand Canyon Avenue.

The pair separately claim that officers forcefully interrogated them about nonexistent illegal narcotics in their vehicle after they pulled to the side of the road to wait for a second car traveling with them that had gotten lost.

“[Lofton] felt threatened by the cops in that if she did not provide
them with the answers they wanted to hear, rather than the truth, she
would be arrested,” wrote Lofton's attorney, Sabrina Fernandez.
“After approximately two hours of harassment and unwarranted
interrogation, the cops unlawfully arrested Lofton and transported her
to the Irvine Police Department . . . where the cops continued to deny
her access to a restroom.”

A “urine-soaked” Lofton was eventually moved to the Orange County Jail, according to the lawsuit.

records don't show criminal charges–even minor misdemeanors–ever
filed against Lofton or Dehaan, and Irvine Police spokeswoman Julia Engen wasn't able to clear up the mystery of what happened that night. Engen said she can't comment on pending litigation.

Reached by telephone, Fernandez refused to comment on the case.

her complaint, Dehaan claims the cops told her she was not under
arrest but still refused to let her leave the scene to use a restroom
for more than an hour.

“When Dehann started to leave the scene,
one of the officers grabbed her by the arm, told her she was being
detained and could not leave,” according to Dehaan's lawsuit, which also
alleges the cops used “such force as to cause marks and a bruise
on her upper torso.”

The suit continues, “Much later, a male
police officer directed a female police officer to let Dehaan urinate
against a chain-link fence. The female officer shone her bright, high-powered flashlight at Dehaan's exposed genital area, illuminating it for
her friends and the other cops to observe as she urinated.”

Dehaan claims the incident was humiliating and has caused her to become reclusive.

–R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly
(rscottmoxley at ocweekly dot com)

CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; earned six dozen other reporting awards; obtained one of the last exclusive prison interviews with Charles Manson disciple Susan Atkins; featured in Jeffrey Toobin’s The Best American Crime Reporting; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.

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