• From Cheetahs Facebook page
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

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.

  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it


Javajoe25 July 22, 2014 @ 10:14 a.m.

San Diego cops acting like thugs again? What else is new?

The SDPD does what they damn please, including close body exams of local strippers and no one is going to do or say anything about it! At least not anything that will amount to anything. These are POLICE OFFICERS, and they can degrade and humiliate women any time they want. Checking dance licenses could have been done by one administrative officer, but hey--this is so much more fun! This is Sandy Eggo, Sucker. We don't need no stinkin' badges, but we have them because they give us license to kill, which is kind of handy.

It's just like having the Mexican cartels, but without the drugs.


monaghan July 22, 2014 @ 10:20 a.m.

The Los Angeles Times today in an editorial excoriates the San Diego Police Department for its unconstitutional forced-photography of local strippers. It's about time word got out concerning our corrupt cop culture and the department's long history of lazy, laissez-faire, highly politicized leadership.

The piece didn't mention recent retiree SDPD Chief Bill Lansdowne or his buddy and predecessor ex-mayor/-ex-cop Jerry Sanders or their longtime protege and now Chief Shelley Zimmerman -- but it should have.


danfogel July 22, 2014 @ 10:26 a.m.

I saw that editorial yesterday. Pretty scathing. I also noticed the failure to mention Sanders, et al. It seemed kind of odd in an otherwise well written editorial.


CaptainObvious July 22, 2014 @ 10:47 a.m.

Whether or not the cops were out of line, I think the "severe anxiety and emotional distress" was caused by not being paid for what they do professionally. These women were "semi-nude" by choice and by their terms of employment. Pay them off at minimum wage for the time they were detained, to assuage their diminished dignity, or deny the suit.


Jay Allen Sanford July 22, 2014 @ 12:08 p.m.

Local law enforcement has been bullying local dancers for a long time - I once ran Cheetahs' competition Jolar near College Ave (where dancers also had "private show booths"), a colorful experience I wrote about in a Reader feature called One Weird Gig. Here are a couple of excerpts:

I was visited on June 26, 1985, by deputy labor commissioner Victor Rojas, who brought with him several vice cops and a fire inspector, Captain Marion Stillwell. Stillwell kept me busy with eight cited violations, while Rojas and vice grilled the dancers. The labor department then informed us that dancers had to be treated as employees from that point forward, threatening us with years’ worth of dancers’ back taxes if we challenged the decree.

My old work files show ten more official visits from police between August 10 and October 16, 1985, including: 8-10: Officer P. Derninc, ID #2164, cited clerk for “litter” in 11 booths.

8-11: Officer Swarzendruber, badge #250, unit #2559, entered office and demanded “Beth’s” real name and address, would not say why he needs this information. I refused to provide, he left without further incident.

8-20: Vice officer J. Deloach, badge #711, ticketed second-shift clerk John for not having a Misc. Merchandising License on display.

8-26: R. Camacho, ID #2563, ticketed [clerk] John for having doors on booths. They told him he’d be arrested if they come back and doors are still on.

9-19: Officer C. Armstong, ID #2740, ticketed [clerk] Tom for doors on booths, threatened with arrest if doors aren’t removed by next visit.

10-16: Officer Goldy, badge #1356, arrived at 1:00 p.m. with two vice officers and took photographs of the stage and all the girls working, refused to say why. Girls scared...I refused to let him in dancers’ lounge, he and other officers left.


shirleyberan July 22, 2014 @ 2:09 p.m.

The "gentlemen's" clubs are discriminatory. I knew that in the 70's before they got cruder. Who do you think is more at fault, police who have been dealing with prostitution and drugs out of these kind of clubs, or owners and management exploiting necissitous women, skirting the law?


shirleyberan July 22, 2014 @ 3:59 p.m.

Puff up your lie all u can, the women are not winning with you J.


AlexClarke July 23, 2014 @ 7:48 a.m.

I have yet to read anything that indicates that Cheetahs was having any issues that required police attention. The police action has been described as "a routine check" which should have been conducted administratively as are health inspections and the like. Unless there were alcohol violations or drugs or prostitution or other criminal activity the police were doing nothing more than harassing. I would prefer the police to be paying attention to real crime and not storming a legitimate licensed business. If you don't like what goes on at Cheetahs then don't go there.


shirleyberan July 23, 2014 @ 10:38 a.m.

"Then don't go there" is unconstitutional.


Sign in to comment

Let’s Be Friends

Subscribe for local event alerts, concerts tickets, promotions and more from the San Diego Reader