Bossier woman says she was maced and stripped after courthouse mistake

By Jonathan McCall - bio| email| Twitter

Read a .pdf copy of the lawsuit here.

BOSSIER PARISH, LA (KSLA) "It's not everyday that you get arrested on a non-existent warrant and then forcibly disrobed in front of male officers. Not in this world."

The thought is unimaginable, but for Sheila Lozada says she doesn't have to imagine, because she lived through it.  The story begins back on May 2, 2008. Lozada says she went to the Bossier Parish Courthouse to pick up a record from the Bossier Sheriffs Office, and that's when she says was arrested on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court. But there was just one problem. Lozada's warrant had been recalled."

"Then I was transported to Bossier Max, where I was forcibly de-robed in front of several male officers and pretty much degraded," says Lozada.

Lozada was booked into the Bossier jail, and around 12:45, was brought to a padded cell after deputies thought she was suicidal. Something Lozada denies. "Why would I want to hurt myself or anybody else, when it you guys' mistake."

Once inside the cell, deputies asked Lozada to take off her clothes, to put on a paper gown. But she says she refused because there were male Bossier deputies present. "I asked if I could have some privacy. I don't mind putting the robe on, and they were like "no," says Lozada.

And when she refused,"I laid on the ground, put my hands like you saw to the side, He told the female officer to close the door. She kinda closed the door, and that's when he put his foot on my neck, and reached in and maced me," she says. .

At 12:47, two male Bossier deputies and female deputy inside of the cell with Lozada. A female deputy goes to close the door, and the two male deputies, each have a foot on Lozada's body. One deputy appears to have his foot on the upper part of her back, while a second deputy appears to have his foot on her leg. Just seconds after the door closes one of the male deputies reaches down puts his hand near Lozada's face, and immediately she begins to squirm and move around trying to free herself. "While I'm squirming and wiggling from that intensive burning I'm asking why did you do that to me? And he told me because I wouldn't shut up," Lozada says.

A minute later at 12:48 deputies leave the room, and for eight minutes Lozada blinded by the mace, struggles to see. And even uses her hands to feel her way around the room.

Lozada was left alone in the room until 12:59, when she says deputies came back once again trying to get her to put the paper gown "They were verbally abusive, and there were male officers there. The sergeant was there, the lieutenant was there and the sergeant said, "pull your clothes off, or we're gonna do it for you,"" says Lozada.

And after that she says she refused to get undressed again in front of the male deputies. At 1:01 according to the video, the deputies did it for her. The camera shows a male Bossier deputy entering Lozada's cell, and begins to forcefully remove her shirt. A female deputy present undoes her pants, but Lozada is not wearing any underwear. By this time Lozada is stripped completely naked. " I knew I was going to be leaving in a couple of hours, but that I had to go through all that de-humanizing, degrading and demoralization was totally, totally not professional at all," says Lozada.

"Not only did they strip her of her liberty, when it should not have been, but they literally stripped her of her humanity by doing that." Nelson Cameron, Lozada's attorney says it's not uncommon for male guards to supervise female inmates, but in this case.  "There was no necessity in bringing men in there to do that. That to me is outside the bounds of human decency, " says Cameron.

"I didn't go out of the house for two months. Just petrified but I think about it daily. I actually live with it. It's something that I'm not going to get rid of, "says Lozada.

Lozada has filed a federal lawsuit against the Bossier Sheriffs Office, and against the deputies involved.

Because of the lawsuit, Bossier Sheriffs officials declined to comment on the case, but they did tell us they've had a history with Lozada in the past.

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