HOUSTON—A 28-year-old woman arrested in March for prostitution has asked the Houston Police Department to investigate two officers she says took nude photographs of her with a cell phone while she was being arrested.
Charges against the woman were dismissed on Wednesday. The woman said she filed a formal complaint with HPD about the incident.
According to the woman’s attorney, Windi Akins Pastorini, the Katy resident was working at a Galleria-area strip club when she was approached by an undercover vice officer who took her to a downtown hotel in a limousine. Pastorini said that in the hotel room, the woman and the police officer undressed and he gave her money to engage in “sexual conduct.”
The officer then went to the bathroom and another officer came in and began taking pictures with his cell phone, Pastorini said.
“I’m very upset about it and humiliated,” the woman said Wednesday. “The other officer was trying to take pictures of me while I was naked. They were trying to get me to calm down and I wouldn’t.”
HPD spokeswoman Jodi Silva declined to say whether there was an internal investigation, answer questions about the case or discuss procedures for undercover vice arrests. She said the two vice officers remain on duty.
Pastorini said that if the woman agreed to engage in sexual behavior for money, the officer had enough evidence to arrest her. There was no reason to go further or take pictures, Pastorini said.
“It’s a form of police brutality, and these officers are doing this to humiliate women,” she said.
Pastorini said the exchange was caught on audiotape by police.
“She’s grabbing for her clothes and all of a sudden she is screaming, ‘You can’t take my picture! I want my clothes!’ and (one of the officers) is telling her she can’t have her clothes.”
The woman said she previously had been arrested in Las Vegas, but was not convicted of a crime. She did not give details about her arrest.
Court records show the Harris County case was dismissed because of a “memo” in the prosecutor’s file.
Donna Hawkins, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office, would not comment on the memo or release it Wednesday, calling it “attorney work product.”
“We are looking into the reasons for the dismissal,” Hawkins said.
According to court records in other prostitution stings, officers say they sometimes undress, along with the prostitute, before money changes hands to prove they are not wearing hidden microphones.