South Carolina Couple Granted $150K Settlement From Illegal Cavity Search Case

Photo by Meg Kinnard
"I felt very humiliated. We don't want this to happen to anybody else," Lakeya Hicks told reporters.

A lawsuit from a Black couple in South Carolina regarding illegal cavity searches has been dismissed by the courts.

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Documents filed in federal court show that Lakeya Hicks and Elijah Pontoon agreed to the dismissal of their lawsuit against four Aiken Police Officers. Hicks and Pontoon claimed they were pulled over and subjected to a humiliating cavity search on the side of the road.

Hicks claimed her breasts were exposed and Pontoon said the police searched his anal cavity. The cavity searches didn’t appear on the dash camera but the audio of the event has been widely circulated.

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"I felt very humiliated,” Hicks told the Associated Press in 2016. "We don't want this to happen to anybody else."

Attorneys in the case signed a stipulation of partial dismissal with prejudice against the four Public Safety officers, Chris Medlin, Clark Smith, Brian Hall, Penny Schultz, and Public Safety chief Charles Barranco. The City of Aiken said the remaining claims against them and the Aiken Department of Public Safety have been dropped.

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Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon said in a prepared statement, “This is the outcome we’ve all hoped for, and we’re very pleased to see our officers and Public Safety itself cleared. From the very beginning, we had confidence in the professionalism of our officers, but we took these allegations seriously and took comprehensive steps to further ensure our city is fully respecting the rights of all.”

City documents obtained show a settlement agreement was reached in favor of the plaintiffs in the amount of $150,000. The state’s municipal insurance is paying out the settlement.

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