Trisha Farkarlun's strip search: Was it revenge for accusing police of rape?

Footage shows both men and women peeling off her clothing

"Damn women tonight," said a sergeant at the Hennepin County jail's intake entrance.

The deputies standing around with him agreed. "They're terrible tonight."

"Who is it? Some newbie or one of the usual?"

Twin Cities attorney Jill Clark is representing Farkarlun in a suit that accuses Hennepin County jailers of assault, battery, an improper strip search, and planting narcotics
Nick Vlcek
Twin Cities attorney Jill Clark is representing Farkarlun in a suit that accuses Hennepin County jailers of assault, battery, an improper strip search, and planting narcotics

"I don't know her," replied a dark-haired female Minneapolis police officer standing with them. "But she says she already has a lawsuit open, or something like that."

"Any tips you want to give?" the officer asked the deputies. "I don't know how to do a strip search really. I've done one."

No one could offer much advice—one said she had only performed two strip searches herself.

"You guys don't even get trained on it?" asked a deputy, surprised.

"No, so we don't get trained on it so I have no idea."

"We'll get her down to one layer of clothing and see what happens."

Deputies led in a stout, dark-skinned woman with short braids, her hands cuffed behind her back. They forced her up against the hard gray wall.

"Are you going to beat me up?" the prisoner asked.

"No," said a female deputy. "You're going to get searched like everybody else."

"I want to speak to my lawyer," the prisoner demanded.

"Face the wall!" the sergeant commanded as the prisoner was shoved against it.

"Down!" demanded the sergeant, as they threw her to the concrete floor and held her. "Now are you going to cooperate or not?"

"Yeah," the prisoner said. "What am I under arrest for?"

"I don't know. That's not our concern."

The deputies untied her shoes, whipped off her socks, and yanked down her jeans.

"I request females on me—not no males," the prisoner pleaded.

"You got females on you," one of the male officers said.

Two of the deputies were women, and the other four were men. Three Minneapolis police officers stood in the doorway of the intake room watching the action.

The deputies stripped off the prisoner's long johns. Then they uncuffed her and pulled her shirt over her head, briefly exposing part of her butt and leaving her in only a pair of boxers and an undershirt.

Some of the deputies frisked her. The others searched through her mislaid clothes. No one found anything. Then the two female deputies and the female officer took her away to finish the strip search.

A few minutes later, the three female officers came out of the room with the search's yield: a breath mint.

"A mint?" asked the sergeant. The room erupted in laughter.

"You know, they put a mint on the pillow, you know, at a hotel," the sergeant joked. "You know where the mint was, right? Did you get that one?"

The deputies brought the prisoner a set of orange jail scrubs. While she changed, a few of them walked off the adrenaline from tackling her.

"I love that floor," the sergeant said. "That floor makes it all worthwhile."

   

JUST AFTER BAR CLOSE in late July 2007, Trisha Farkarlun and her girlfriend, Tracy Winters, were driving back from the Gay '90s nightclub to Winters's house in north Minneapolis. Farkarlun asked Winters to give her friend a ride somewhere. When Winters told her she didn't feel like it, the two started bickering.

"It was a petty argument," Winters admits.

The spat continued after they got home. By the time the sun started to rise, they were loudly squabbling in the yard. Someone called 911.

Minneapolis police officers Paul Gillies and his rookie partner MiQuel Barnes responded to the scene at 6:19 a.m.

Still hot from the argument, Farkarlun started giving lip to Barnes. The officers cuffed Farkarlun and put her in the back of the squad car to run her driver's license. When it came back with no warrants, they uncuffed her and let her go. Farkarlun walked down Vincent Avenue North toward Golden Valley Road to catch a bus.

Farkarlun would later claim that the officers caught up with her a few blocks down Vincent Avenue and dragged her into a nearby alley, where she says she was held down and raped.

Winters went looking for Farkarlun and found her on the ground in tears. Farkarlun told Winters that the officers had raped her. By 6:59 a.m.—just under a half-hour after the police left Winters's house—Farkarlun and Winters were at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale seeking treatment. When Farkarlun said she was raped by police officers, the hospital called Internal Affairs.

Internal Affairs Officer Sgt. Troy Schoenberger and his partner showed up to visit Farkarlun in the hospital a few hours later.

"I understand you went through a traumatic incident this morning, and we want to ask you a few questions about it," Schoenberger said in the hospital room. "I know some of these questions are going to be uncomfortable, but it's important that we get as much information as we can to make sure that we can find out what exactly happened and hold anyone that might have done this accountable."

"No," screeched Farkarlun through tears. "I don't want to do this.... They said they're going to hurt me and they got my name and address."

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