Woman who says she was twice forced outside naked during search of her home sues Florida sheriff

A woman is suing a Florida Sheriff over claims that she was forced out of her home naked on two occasions – in front of her 14-year-old son and six-year-old daughter – while search warrants were being executed at her property.

LaTanya Griffin, 46, filed a lawsuit at a federal court on Monday and named the defendants as Sheriff Eric Aden and Grady Carpenter, a now-retired deputy who was at the scene of both warrants at her home.

Mr Aden heads the same police department already under scrutiny over another controversy – the fatal shooting of an Air Force airman.

Ms Griffin claims she was not arrested or charged after either warrant, but alleges that her Fourth Amendment rights, which forbid any unreasonable searches and seizures, had been violated when she was forced outside of her home while she was not dressed, a civil lawsuit obtained by The Independent states.

She is seeking damages of more than $1m for a continuing list, including medical care, loss of income, as well as relocation expenses for the current claim.

Her attorney stated to NBC that she was not the target of the warrants when she was forced outside her home “fully naked” on 29 August 2019 and 28 May 2020.

During the first incident, which she has previously sued the sheriff’s office deputies for, Ms Griffin alleges that deputies used a battering ram to enter her home during a search warrant. She says she was woken and made to leave her bedroom naked.

She claims she was then ordered at gunpoint to walk downstairs and outside in front of the officers and her two children.

The recently filed lawsuit describes the second incident in 2020, in which Ms Griffin claims that Mr Carpenter “was present and provided direction and oversight” on both occasions for the deputies’ operations.

The May 2020 incident was allegedly carried out during the execution of an arrest warrant, again using a battering ram, before daybreak at Ms Griffin’s home in a residential community close to a public roadway, the suit claims.

“With striking similarity to the August 29th seizure,” Ms Griffin was allegedly again ordered outside of her residence naked, despite objecting to being unclothed as she did in the previous incident.

Once outside, the lawsuit said that Ms Griffin’s children watched her “during her naked detention for a substantial amount of time,” while she was zip-tied or handcuffed from behind.

Deputies eventually placed a tank top over her head, “providing partial covering but not concealment of her genitalia,” the lawsuit alleges.

Ms Griffin’s attorney, Kevin Anderson, told NBC News, who were the first to report on the matter, that the deputies “took no precautions to preserve her dignity.”

“She was humiliated and made to do what they wanted her to do. She was treated like an animal,” he added, saying that his client has since moved from Okaloosa County to a northern part of the state.

Ms Griffin alleges in the complaint that Mr Carpenter failed to exercise his authority to stop constitutional violation.

Ms Griffin has claimed in the lawsuit that she suffered a loss of liberty and freedom, as well as physical discomfort, emotional distress and injury to her reputation.

In the first lawsuit, which was filed back in August 2023, the sheriff’s office’s legal response was that their actions were consistent with “established, reasonable, and generally accepted police procedure” and actions made by the two deputies named in the initial complaint “were made in good faith and while they were acting within the course and scope of their employment as deputy sheriffs with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office,” NBC reports.

This first lawsuit is still in the discovery phase, Ms Griffin’s attorney told the outlet.

In a statement to The Independent, a spokesperson for the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s office said that “the events alleged in this lawsuit would have taken place prior to Sheriff Aden taking office. Therefore, he is unable to provide comments about this matter.”

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida issued this press release in 2021. Their office executed the search warrant related to Ms. Griffin’s lawsuit,” the spokesperson added. “The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office was present at the time and its deputies conducted themselves with professionalism throughout that encounter. We look forward to receiving service of Ms. Griffin’s lawsuit and to fully addressing her claims in court.”

The sheriff’s office has also recently come under fire for the fatal shooting of an Air Force airman at his Florida home after his family alleged that an officer responded to the wrong address.

US Air Force Senior Airman Roger Fortson, 23, was shot on 3 May 2024 by a deputy from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

Chantemekki Fortson, mother of Roger Fortson, holds a photo of her son during a news conference (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Chantemekki Fortson, mother of Roger Fortson, holds a photo of her son during a news conference (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Speaking at a news conference, Sheriff Aden maintained that the deputy did knock on the correct door and that any statements made by the family and Ben Crump, the famed civil rights attorney retained to represent them, are inaccurate.

The Independent has contacted Mr Anderson for comment.