The City of San Antonio has offered $205,000 to a woman who accused a local police officer of pulling out her tampon during an illegal cavity search.
According to the Washington Post, city officials will vote on the proposed settlement this Thursday, more than three years after Natalie D. Simms was subjected to the search in a public area. The Post reports that officers were in the area to investigate possible drug activity, when one of them allegedly witnessed Simms go under a bridge with another woman to conduct an apparent drug deal. Officers approached the now-40-year-old woman as she was sitting on a curb waiting for her boyfriend, and asked if they could perform a search.
Court documents state Simms consented to a vehicle search, as she knew "she had done nothing wrong." After officers determined there was no contraband in the car, they called a female detective, Mara Wilson, to check Simms' clothing. Once again, the officer found nothing, so she asked Simms if she could remove the shorts she was wearing.
"I’m going to ask you, do you have anything down here before I reach down here?" Wilson asked Simms, according to a transcript of the dash cam footage.
After Simms informed the officer she was on her period, Mara reassured the woman she would only look, not touch. Mara, who has since retired from the force, proceeded to pull Simms' shorts down, opened her underwear, and pulled a tampon out of the woman's vagina.
"It’s full of blood, right?" Simms reportedly said. "Why would you do that?"
"I don’t know, it looked like it had stuff in there," Wilson responded before continuing the search and commenting that Simms was "very hairy."
Five male officers were present during the incident.
According to police records, Simms left the scene in her own car after officers failed to find any illegal possessions. The woman filed a 2018 lawsuit against the city and Mara for unspecified damages, claiming the search was a "blatant violation" of her constitutional rights, and caused "significant and lasting harm."
"Officer Wilson had violated Natalie vaginally, and now it appeared that she might violate Natalie anally," the lawsuit alleges, according to San Antonio Current. "She was doing so without a warrant, with no medical personnel present, and on a public street in view of several people as well as those passing by."
City officials never disciplined Wilson for her actions, and insisted the detective "did nothing that violated any of the City's procedures by searching Ms. Simms in the manner she searched her."
According to the Post, Simms and her attorney have agreed to the $205,000 settlement. If the city council approves the payment this week, the money will be paid through San Antonio's self-insurance liability fund.