The story of a police officer who pulled out a woman’s tampon during an arrest has resurfaced, sparking outrage amongst social media users.
As reports of police brutality and excessive force are being shared in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, the case of Natalie Simms, who received a $205,000 payout in 2019 after a federal lawsuit.
Simms was stopped in 2016 by Mara Wilson, an officer from the San Antonio Police Department as she waited for her boyfriend on a curb.
They asked to search her car and Simms herself, which she consented to, knowing she wasn’t carrying narcotics.
Mara Wilson, a woman officer searched Simms, despite not having a warrant.
During the search, Wilson told Simms to “spread her legs” and Simms told her that she was on her period.
At this point Wilson “lied,” saying “I’m just going to look, I’m not going to reach”.
Instead she pulled open Simms’ trousers and underwear, while five male officers watched, and pulled out her tampon.
"Is that a tampon?" Wilson allegedly asked.
"It's full of blood, right?" Simms replied, shocked. "Why would you do that?"
"I don't know. It looked like it had stuff in there”.
Wilson then apparently held the tampon up and “made statements” about it before continuing to search Simms.
At one point she commented “you’re very hairy” and ran her fingers along Simms’ vaginal lips.
The search concluded having failed to find any drugs on Simms.
The lawsuit Simms later lodged against the city of San Antonio in 2018 said her “dignity and self-worth” remained at the scene.
In 2019, Simms was awarded $205,000.
Wilson retired in 2017 but didn’t apologise for her conduct, saying “"you don't know what they have [in there],” in reference to searching Simms.
“I mean, they stick all kinds of stuff [in there]”.
Social media users discovering the story for the first time were horrified.
One person said Wilson’s actions amount to “sexual assault”.
Another said it was a “horror story”.
Others questioned Officer Wilson’s claim not to know what the tampon was.
As with similar stories, it all adds up to a wider picture of an institution that seems to run rampant and unchecked when it comes to using excessive force on citizens.