The flap over San Diego Police Department's raid on two strip joints earlier this year is nowhere near finished. On July 16, a dancer named as "Jane Doe" filed a lawsuit against the police department and its chief, Shelley Zimmerman, alleging false imprisonment and unreasonable search and seizure during a July 15, 2013, raid of Cheetahs All Nude Gentleman's Club in Kearny Mesa.
The lawsuit is the second one to be filed over strip-club shakedowns. Last week, as reported by U-T San Diego, 30 female dancers filed a similar lawsuit against the San Diego Police Department for raids that took place in March of this year.
The woman alleges that during the "inspections" officers cordoned off the building and forced the dancers to line up in two single-file lines. After giving their name, answering questions about tattoos and piercings, and showing their adult-entertainment permits, the women were then shuffled off for photographs where they stood, "semi-nude" while a group of officers, both male and female, "laughed and made unwanted remarks."
Officers threatened to arrest anyone who objected to the questions or the photos. The fiasco, says the woman, caused severe anxiety and emotional distress.
After news of the lawsuit by the 30 dancers broke, Lt. Kevin Mayer appeared on a Los Angeles radio program defending the raids, saying officers are authorized to conduct administrative inspections.
Attorneys for Jane Doe aren't buying it.
"The administrative inspection provisions of the San Diego Municipal Code (Article 3 Division One) are unconstitutionally vague and unconstitutionally overbroad, providing no additional guidelines as to what search and detention provisions are required for first amendment regulated businesses other than that inspections be ‘reasonable.’ This 'reasonability’ provision thus vests the Police Department and Police Officers with unbridled discretion in interpreting what is and is not allowed as part of the regulatory provision."
Attorneys feel Chief Zimmerman is to blame for allowing such policy to stand and are asking the court to issue a temporary restraining order against the department's policy. As the case proceeds, lawyers will request a permanent injunction to prevent future illegal searches.
A civil case management conference is scheduled for March 2015.