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Jun 17, 2009 12:25 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village victorious in strip search case

Jun 17, 2009 12:25 PM

Southampton Village came out of court victorious on Tuesday after a jury decided that the 2003 strip search of a female suspect was justified and did not violate her Fourth Amendment rights.

The lawsuit also named two current members of the police department, Officer Anthony Gallo and Sergeant Darren Gagnon, and two members who have since retired, Officer Marla Donovan and Chief Jim Sherry.

Stacey Hartline, 21 years old at the time, had been pulled over in Southampton Village on January 6, 2003, because her truck was missing a rear license plate.

Jeltje DeJong of the Smithtown law firm Devitt Spellman Barret, the attorney representing the village and its co-defendants, said Ms. Hartline was also pulled over because Officer Gallo saw her smoking a marijuana pipe.

When she opened the door, the cab smelled of marijuana smoke and he saw a still-burning pipe, Ms. DeJong said. Ms. Hartline was laughing and giggling, she added.

Ms. Hartline told Officer Gallo that he might find more marijuana in her car, though there were only stems, seeds and roaches, according to court documents.

The village argued that Ms. Hartline was wearing loose fitting clothing, an indicator that she might have been hiding more marijuana. Officer Gallo arrested Ms. Hartline and charged her with a misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana. He called in Officer Donovan to perform a strip search of Ms. Hartline in a female holding cell.

Ms. Hartline argued in her lawsuit that she suffered “extreme embarrassment, distress, physical and psychological pain and discomfort” as a result of the search. Ms. DeJong said Ms. Hartline had been seeking close to $6 million in damages.

Ms. Hartline’s attorney, Frederick Brewington of Hempstead, said that he and his client are disappointed by the outcome and a bit puzzled by the jury’s decision in light of the facts weighing heavy in her favor.

Ms. DeJong said the jury concluded that the strip search was justified because police had reasonable suspicion Ms. Hartline had contraband.

Ms. Hartline had argued that the police department had a policy of routinely strip searching all female suspects and not male suspects. Ms. DeJong said that is not the case and the Village Police search only suspects who they have a reasonable suspicion are hiding contraband or weapons.

She said it was also untrue that the strip search was ever broadcast on monitors in the station—the camera pointing at the cell was turned on only after the search and it is connected to only one monitor for the female cell jail guard, she said.

In 2006, a U.S. District Court issued a summary judgment that favored the village and directed the court clerk to close the case, finding that the Village Police had cause for reasonable suspicion Ms. Hartline was hiding more marijuana. But last October, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit sent the case back to the district court and ordered that a jury trial be held.

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Justice is served. The truth came out.
By Happy (2), suffolk county on Jun 17, 09 9:37 PM
I was a juror in the case of Stacey Hartline versus the four police officers and the village of South Hampton.
I do not recall ever reading about this case so I truly did not the know the facts until June 2nd when the trial began. When I read this article, I was extremely amazed and disappointed that the facts in this article are so distorted.
Officer Gallo testified that he saw Stacey spoking a marijuana pipe while he was at the 711 parking lot. Her windows are tinted and pictures of ...more
By Juror (4), oceanside on Jun 19, 09 8:41 PM
Dear "intheknow911":

In respone to you "once a cop always a copy - not" - You have some nerve - you sound like you are a member of the Village PD. Unless you have "walked" in Stacey's shoes - keep you ignorant comments to yourself.

By WHB (5), Southampton on Jun 20, 09 8:03 AM
How many people will be violated and killed by these police officers before something is done?
By notahappylocal (4), Southampton on Jun 20, 09 2:37 PM
The REAL truth will surface. I wonder how god will feel about police officers lying under oath!!!
By notahappylocal (4), Southampton on Jun 20, 09 2:39 PM
intheknow911, you're so obviously a PD of SH Village. Why not post who you are you coward!
By notahappylocal (4), Southampton on Jun 20, 09 3:15 PM
intheknow911 - your new name should be "head in the sand 911" - why do you keep making references the the Southampton Town PD - we are discussing the Southampton Village PD? Are you a coward - why don't you come out and say who you are referring to in your many e-mails?
By WHB (5), Southampton on Jun 20, 09 4:34 PM

How does this case end up back in front of the judge that threw it out in the first place? THAT is the true injustice.... Who knows who?
By Dunker137 (12), Southampton on Jun 20, 09 8:58 PM
Again No Justice with the Southampton Village Police - Their practices of strip searching all females goes on! 99.9% of all people stopped in the Village and found having a small amount of seeds and stems are given a ticket - But Gallo's first arrest had to be a big one, so a strip search was ordered. When nothing was found they had to make the punishment fit the crime? The police lied under oath and the rest of them followed as usual. That great blue wall under the command of Sherry continues. ...more
By je (5), southampton on Jun 21, 09 3:59 PM
This is in response to Dunker 137....after the case concluded, Judge Hurley came to the room to speak with out us. He clearly knew that I was very upset with the verdict. Someone asked him as to why this case took so long and explained to us the history of this case. He told us that this case was brought to him back in 2004 to determine if this case can be decided by a judge or a jury. He told us that he determined that this can be decided by a judge and ruled on that. He then proceeded to ...more
By Juror (4), oceanside on Jun 21, 09 5:24 PM
i see intheknow911 doesnt have much else to do but put his nose where it doesnt belong ,his education level isnt very high or maybe JUST a cop.
By je (5), southampton on Jun 21, 09 6:41 PM
Intheknow911 - (a/k/a ignoramous911) - Of course I know what your reference to the SH TOWN PD means, you are referring, of course, to a certain retired Detective who had 27 years on the force and never had ANY charges brought against him, unlike other members of a certain PD (wife beating, civil complaints) - you should really watch yourself, you are coming dangerously close to "slander" (you should look it up in the dictionary) because I'm sure you don't know the legal meaning.

Enough ...more
By WHB (5), Southampton on Jun 22, 09 9:14 AM
Juror - It is good to hear from someone who was actually in Court and heard all the details. I commend you for honest and fair comments on what really happend. Thank you for sharing your insight with us.
By WHB (5), Southampton on Jun 22, 09 9:16 AM
I too was in court! The untruths that are being spread are ridiculous! Yes paper work was not perfect! People make mistakes! Fact is she was smoking pot in a "crack pipe" as her own stepfather testified too! That is for sure reasonably suspicion. Trying to lie to your steparents about what really happened is obvious. Take resposibility for your actions you commited a crime and her rights were certainly not violated. Step Dad was angry because professional corteousy was not given to his stepdaughter. ...more
By Happy (2), suffolk county on Jun 22, 09 12:37 PM
"Professional Courtesy" These are exactly the words an officer would use.... OK who is it?
By Dunker137 (12), Southampton on Jun 22, 09 4:30 PM
its funny you can tell whos a cop and who is a concerned person,but the next time these same cops are in court together for the next case ,lets see want they can lie about and get away with,we all known what case that is I hope they all shit in their pants,that will be fun to watch.
By je (5), southampton on Jun 22, 09 6:31 PM
Happy - I have reported your comment as inappropriate - GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT - Stacey's stepfather NEVER said she was smoking any kind of pipe - let alone a crack pipe - that was something the PD came up with later on to cover their a__, he also never said he was expecting any kind of professional courtesy - We know, we were there. You use the words "professional courtesy" - OK - answer the questions from Dunker137 - which PD do you belong to?

Judy and Steve Wilson
By WHB (5), Southampton on Jun 22, 09 6:37 PM
Happy I dont think you were there unless you were sitting at the "other" table because nothing was said about a pipe or unless you mean the PD lying under oath about seeing her with the pipe.but we all know that was a fabrication to cover there a---!!!
By je (5), southampton on Jun 23, 09 9:32 AM
Happy- How do you go from being a DARE teacher to a police officer involed in questionable acts....Strip searching, tasering....
Were you in the court room??? Because your side was the side that did all the "staged testimony." And for an officer to say "Yes paper work was not perfect! People make mistakes!"....how pathetic. A job worth doing is a job worth doing well!!!
By notahappylocal (4), Southampton on Jun 23, 09 11:24 AM
Happy...I do not live in South Hampton nor do I know Stacey or any of the parties involved in this case. I did not volunteer to be on this jury. I was selected to take part in this case on June 1st. We started with 8 jurors; 4 men and 4 women. During the trial, a male juror fell ill and was excused from the remaining of the trial, bringing the total of jurors to 7. After the case concluded, I wanted to find out more additional information partly because of what Judge Hurley told us when the ...more
By Juror (4), oceanside on Jun 23, 09 9:13 PM
juror---Your a good person!!!!There should be more concerned Jurors like you who care about the Truth. The truth in this case was not told.

things were left out, twisted,and made very "blue"even the Judge was one sided.and the excop that couldnt get his day in court would have made all the unthruths right again.
By je (5), southampton on Jun 24, 09 6:55 AM
By JohnPalmBay (5), Palm Bay on Jun 24, 09 8:36 PM
How sad this all really is ! Has strip searching people for a little bit of "weed" become the "Norm" now in Southampton? What's next, teens who hide weed in their parents homes, being dragged down to the Village police department to be strip searched, because you know a lot of teens wear baggy clothes, and they (SHVPD) could give the excuse that they had "reasonable suspicion" what a bunch of nonsense.. How sad for the young woman .. She knows her mistake, when will the Village Police own all of ...more
By JohnPalmBay (5), Palm Bay on Jun 24, 09 8:41 PM
To clarify this situation and offer some truths to the community: The juror above said they weren’t informed on ANY marijuana laws which clearly states under 28 grams of marijuana for a first time offender is a civil citation. Similar to a speeding ticket, a violation under the law. There is only one way to make this amount of marijuana a higher charge, a misdemeanor is any amount under 28 grams in public where marijuana is burning or open to public view.

The juror above also clearly ...more
By Justice (4), Southampton on Jun 25, 09 3:12 PM
John Palm Bay...It is extremely sad because as I have mentioned, I did not volunteer to be a juror in this case and we did not know the law on misdemeanors nor were we allow to base our decision as to why Stacey's miranda rights were not read to her. I am a parent and I was extremely disturbed about our verdict knowing that this could have happened to my child but as a juror we were instructed to follow the law even though in our heart of hearts, we knew differently.
By Juror (4), oceanside on Jun 25, 09 8:41 PM