Katy, Texas – A woman is seeking justice after allegedly being raped by a jailer after being arrested for possession of less than a half a gram of cannabis she claims to use medicinally for her epilepsy.
Emma Lopez said that the ordeal began while driving home on March 1 when she was pulled over for suspected speeding by a Katy ISD police officer a few blocks away from her home.
Police bodycam footage of the stop obtained by ABC 13 Eyewitness News showed Lopez complying with the stop and the officer. Within minutes the officer asked her to step out of her vehicle, and stated, “The minute I stopped you, I could smell marijuana on your car.”
Lopez admitted that she uses marijuana to control her seizures and pointed out the small amount in her vehicle to the officer.
“I have seizures and I don’t even smoke very much,” Lopez said in the footage.
At this point the officer informed her that she was going to be arrested and taken to jail for the miniscule amount of marijuana, despite the fact that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office has ceased prosecuting people for possession of small amounts of marijuana. “Unfortunately, you’re going to jail today,” the officer told Lopez.
Katy ISD police claim that Lopez was initially stopped in a school zone, thus making possession of any amount of marijuana an arrestable offense. However, according to ABC 13, Lopez’s lawyers claim that she should not have been arrested in the first place.
In an exclusive interview with ABC 13, Lopez said that after being taken to the Harris County Jail she was moved into a holding cell by herself. Lopez alleges that only a few hours later a male guard entered the holding cell, handcuffed her, and raped her.
After he asked me to get up and put me up against the wall and handcuffed me, he pulled my pants down and pulled his pants down and I froze,” Lopez said. “I asked him not to do it. He said, ‘If I say anything, he would do it again, and I wouldn’t be able to say anything.’
I’m working on this #exclusive story for #abc13 at 6. A young woman, (questionably) arrested for having a tiny amount of pot while driving near a school, is allegedly raped in the Harris County Jail. As of tonight, the jailer has not yet been identified.My story—>> http://abc13.com/3425908/
Posted by ABC13-Miya Shay on Thursday, May 3, 2018
Lopez says she attempted to alert female guards to the sexual assault that had just taken place, but she was told to sit down and stay quiet while being processed.
After she was finally released from jail the next day, Lopez said she went directly to the hospital where a rape kit was collected. Lopez’s attorney, Michael Edwards, says there is evidence that proves Lopez was sexually assaulted while in the Harris County jail.
“There’s surveillance, there’s jail calls, there’s a number of elements that support Mrs. Lopez in her outcry in what happened to her,” Edwards told ABC 13.
A statement was released by the Harris County Jail confirming that there is an active investigation of the incident underway:
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an allegation that a female jail inmate was sexually assaulted by an employee inside the Harris County Jail in early March. Investigators have interviewed the victim, reviewed video recordings from inside the jail, and are taking all other necessary steps to ensure a thorough investigation is conducted. The investigation is ongoing, and no charges have been filed at this time. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office takes these allegations seriously, and we are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all inmates entrusted in our care.
Lopez, a mother of two, has since filed a lawsuit against the City of Katy and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, as well as Sheriff Ed Gonzales, the officer who arrested her, and the unidentified jail guard who allegedly raped her.