Woman arrested & stripped naked, plans to sue Floyd Co. Jail

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WDRB) -- A Louisville attorney says one of her clients was stripped naked and left for hours inside a Floyd County Jail cell and she said she has reason to believe it happens all the time.

Attorney Laura Landenwich represents Tabitha Gentry of New Albany, who was arrested and booked into the Floyd County Jail on March 30. After reviewing surveillance video that captured the actions of staff members during Gentry's incarceration, Landenwich says what happened inside the jail during the next few hours should be discussed in front of a judge.

She reviewed the video with WDRB in her downtown Louisville office on Thursday.

"This is 4:07 a.m., and this is an Indiana State Police officer that picked her up," she explained.

Gentry had been arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting law enforcement.

"Almost immediately upon entering the jail, she's assaulted by four officers. They grab her around the neck, they grab her body," Landenwich said. The video shows officers then taking Gentry to what's called the padded room.

"They hold her down," Landenwich said. "There are two male officers and two female officers and they forceably remove her pants, her shoes, her underwear and her shirt and bra.

"Terrified and humiliated, she's banging on the door asking someone to give her her clothing and someone comes to the door and says, 'If you don't shut up, I'm going to pepper spray you,' and sure enough, they open the door, spray pepper spray into the room and they leave -- and they leave her in there for 40 minutes, naked, in a cell filled with pepper spray."

Landenwich says Gentry was then handcuffed and taken to wash out her eyes.

"She has a blanket draped over her shoulders, she's paraded through the booking area in full view of anyone who happened to be there," Landenwich said.

Landenwich said Gentry was put back in the cell and left there for five more hours before she was given a jump suit to wear.

"Now this is a woman, who under our system of law, is innocent until proven guilty. She's charged and she's charged with a misdemeanor crime that's not a violent crime," said Landenwich.

Landenwich believes what happened to Gentry is normal policy inside the Floyd County Jail.

"What we also see on the video is there is another inmate also being held naked prior to her entering that cell," Landenwich said. "These are egregious constitutional violations."

WDRB obtained two incident reports that claim Gentry appeared to be intoxicated at the time of her arrest and made threats toward officers.

In one report, an officer writes "I struggled getting her to the ground to remove her clothing per jail policy."

WDRB spoke with Floyd County Sheriff Darrell Mills by phone Thursday.

When asked if it's policy to remove an inmate's clothing before booking, he said they "don't strip search."

Mills told WDRB there is certain criteria for different circumstances and each case is different. Before referring WDRB to an attorney, Mills said he thinks his staff acted appropriately.

Landenwich says she plans to file the lawsuit against the jail next week.

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