LaSalle County

Former Marine Sues Sheriff After Police Forcibly Stripped Her in Custody

The incident is similar to the 2013 arrest and strip-search of Dana Holmes

Warning: The information and images in this article and above video may be disturbing to some readers. 

A federal complaint filed on behalf of a former Marine claims she was forcibly strip-searched without cause by police following a DUI arrest her lawyer says wasn't warranted.

The incident took place almost two years ago, but the attorney for Zadrea Askew said his client is still haunted by what happened and the humiliation she said she felt by LaSalle County Sheriff's police.

"This was not even a strip-search," Askew's attorney, Terry Ekl, said. "This was a strip to try to make her be cooperative, so it is even more egregious."

Askew pulled over on Jan. 20, 2017, because she felt sick, but police ended up arresting her for DUI, her attorney said.

Later at the jail, video released to NBC 5 by Ekl shows Askew getting one final warning about being uncooperative before three LaSalle County Sheriff's officers throw her on a table, then on the floor, where they tear off her clothes.

"All right … you have one chance to cooperate with us," officers are heard saying in the jail video, "then we are going to be taking your clothes off you ourselves."

"Why are you doing this? Why are you doing this?" Askew says in the video.

Screaming and crying, the 28-year-old woman is seen being left naked on the floor with only a blanket to cover her.

In a 27-page federal complaint, Ekl alleged that the sole purpose of the stripping was to punish, harass and humiliate his client.

"We are in the 21st century," Ekl said. "For any law enforcement official to think that’s proper procedure is really astounding."

Askew’s treatment during her detention is remarkably similar to the 2013 arrest and strip-search of Dana Holmes, also for DUI.

That case was settled by LaSalle County for more than $350,000.

"We learned in that case that for 40 years, when they think that a prisoner has been uncooperative, they rip their clothes off," Ekl said. "This has got to end." 

The LaSalle County States Attorney dismissed the charges in this case for a lack of probable cause.

NBC 5 reached out to the sheriff, who is also named in the complaint, but he did not immediately respond to our request for comment.

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