More trouble looming for the embattled San Diego Police Department on Wednesday when 30 women who claim they were mistreated by police during inspections of two strip clubs in Kearny Mesa sued the city and police Chief Shelley Zimmerman.
Most of the women, who were employees of Cheetahs and Exposé, claim they were held against their will during license compliance inspections on March 6. The remaining two plaintiffs made the same allegations about a raid conducted on July 15, 2013.
City officials were not immediately available for comment on the suit filed in San Diego Superior Court, which alleges that officers blocked exits from the club while others went into the dancer’s dressing rooms.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Dan Gilleon, alleges the women were interrogated and photographed while nearly nude.
Some of the officers “made arrogant and demeaning comments to the entertainers, and ordered them to expose body parts so that they could ostensibly photograph their tattoos,” the suit alleges.
Gilleon said his clients did not consent to the photographs or detention.
The clubs — Exposé is on Kearny Mesa Road and Cheetahs is on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard — and dancers are subject to occasional police inspections as a condition of a city-issued license.
After the women filed claims against the city a few months ago, SDPD spokesman Lt. Kevin Mayer told reporters that cataloging tattoos is an important tool for identifying adult entertainers, who can change their appearance with a wig, makeup or colored contact lenses.
Zimmerman was named in the lawsuit because of her status as chief of police, but she’d been in the job only a few days before the inspections took place.
Gilleon claims she knew of, or later ratified, the actions of the officers that deprived his clients of their rights against unreasonable searches and seizures, and made or approved of the decision to photograph the women.
The lawyer is asking for unspecified damages to compensate for emotional distress, and pain and suffering.
— City News Service