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U.S. appeals court reinstates lesbian couple's suit against SAPD
San Antonio Express-News, March 10, 2012
A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit in which a lesbian couple alleged San Antonio police burst into their home without knocking, used excessive force and demeaned the women in a fruitless drug raid.

Lawsuit filed over SAPD raid tossed
San Antonio Express-News, December 8, 2010
A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which a lesbian couple alleged San Antonio police busted into their home without knocking, used excessive force and demeaned the women in a fruitless drug raid based on the word of an informant.

QSanAntonio was the first media outlet to cover this story. Below are the articles and links, in inverse chronological order, that chronicle the evolution of this case.

Trial date set for lesbian couple’s federal suit against SAPD
QSanAntonio.com, October 28, 2010

A spokesperson for the Texas Civil Rights Project has confirmed that a trial date has been set for a September 2009 federal suit filed against the San Antonio Police Department on behalf of a lesbian couple whose home was raided in a drug bust that found no evidence of wrongdoing.

Patricia Kelly of the Texas Civil Right Project told QSanAntonio that the trial is set for December 6. She did caution that legal appeals by the SAPD’s attorneys could affect the trial's starting date.

The suit seeks unspecified damages and an injunction to stop the San Antonio police from "such bogus and terrorizing constitutional violations in the future."

A team of nine San Antonio Police officers, three Leon Valley patrolmen and a drug-sniffing dog conducted the raid on April 28, 2009. They kicked in the front door, handcuffed Lindsey Bishop and Carolyn Clark and accused them of manufacturing and selling methamphetamine, and sheltering a drug suspect named Randy. (See related stories below.)

Despite a thorough search of the house and lengthy questioning of both women, investigators could find no evidence of a drug lab or other contraband.

The couple say they were left shaken and traumatized not only by the raid but also by the conduct of the police officers who, they say, made sexist and homophobic comments.

"This is a classic example of police abusing their authority, and why we need constitutional protections," said James C. Harrington one of the lawyers who will be working on the case. "These officers behaved unconscionably and terrorized law-abiding citizens in their own home."

Nine SAPD officers named in federal lawsuit by lesbian couple
QSanAntonio.com, September 14, 2009

Nine San Antonio police officers have been named in a federal lawsuit filed on September 14 by the Texas Civil Rights Project on behalf of a lesbian couple whose home was raided in a drug bust that found no evidence of wrongdoing.

The suit seeks unspecified damages and an injunction to stop the San Antonio police from "such bogus and terrorizing constitutional violations in the future."

A team of nine San Antonio Police officers, three Leon Valley patrolmen and a drug-sniffing dog conducted the raid on April 28. They kicked in the front door, handcuffed Lindsey Bishop and Carolyn Clark and accused them of manufacturing and selling methamphetamine, and sheltering a drug suspect named Randy.

Despite a thorough search of the house and lengthy questioning of both women, investigators could find no evidence of a drug lab or other contraband.

The couple say they were left shaken and traumatized not only by the raid but also by the conduct of the police officers who, they say, made sexist and homophobic comments. (See related stories below.)

At a press conference in front of the Federal Courthouse in San Antonio both women fought back tears as they spoke to reporters about the events that led to the lawsuit.

"This is a classic example of police abusing their authority, and why we need constitutional protections," said James C. Harrington one of the lawyers who will be working on the case. "These officers behaved unconscionably and terrorized law-abiding citizens in their own home."

"People’s homes are sacred, and protected by the constitution. San Antonio needs to train its police that they have no right to terrorize citizens in their homes and abuse their rights after police realize they have a bad search warrant. They effectively placed the women under arrest in their own home in violation of their rights," Harrington added.

Police say that the search warrant was obtained based on information from a "highly credible" informant who named the house as the source of drug activity. At a meeting with the Stonewall Democrats on May 18, Police Chief William McManus said, "The warrant far exceeded the court’s standards for probable cause. I’m satisfied the warrant was good."

By citing the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments in the filing, the Texas Civil Rights Project’s lawsuit will focus on the execution of the search warrant. The Fourth Amendment specifically deals with illegal search and seizure.

The nine officers named in the suit are Tony Arcuri, E. Lopez, M. Laurenz, E. Torres, G. Durden, R. Funk. J. Whitney, W. Roberts and W. Hunt. Not included in the suit were three officers from the Leon Valley Police Department.

The federal lawsuit comes on the heels of an Internal Affairs investigation the women initiated with the Police Department. On September 2, they both testified at a hearing where officers and civilians from the Police Chief’s Advisory Action Board questioned them.

"I'm not sure how well the hearing went," Clark told QSanAntonio. "I felt a little under attack in the hearing room. Lindsey and I took questions separately for about 15 minutes. Lindsey gave a statement. I did not. I was unable to do it. I was not sure if I would be able to answer anything if I started reading my statement. It was very emotional."

The Police Department said they will release the results of the investigation in seven to ten days only if they find evidence of wrongdoing by the officers who conducted the raid.

Lesbian couple takes polygraph test in SAPD raid investigation
QSanAntonio.com, June 19, 2009

The lesbian couple whose home was raided on April 28 by San Antonio Police Department drug investigators have taken polygraph tests as part of an Internal Affairs investigation which they initiated. The raid, conducted by 12 officers and a drug-sniffing dog, yielded no evidence the two were involved in making, using or selling drugs.

Lindsey and Carolyn say that during the raid, officers used homophobic language and emotionally traumatized them. (See story below.) The polygraph tests will be used to help investigators determine what may have really happed that night. "We where told that they could not make the officers take one if we didn't. I hope we are doing the right thing," Carolyn told QSanAntonio.

Carolyn says that she and Lindsay were nervous before the test, which they took on June 5. "We did the polygraph test and passed it," says Carolyn. "The guy who administered the test for us said we both made his job really easy. It was obvious that we were telling the truth. It took him a while to calm me down enough to take the test."

Meanwhile, activists have met privately with Police Chief William McManus. Lynne Armstrong and Roberto Flores from the Peace Officers Liaison Committee conferred with the chief at his office on June 4 to discuss the case.

Armstrong and Flores says McManus told them that he would keep them abreast of how the investigation was proceeding as progress was made. The chief also said he wanted to meet with them on a regular in order to gauge the mood of the community and to discuss any other concerns which may arise.

Lindsay and Carolyn say they are thankful the community has stepped in to help see them through this ordeal. They say one problem at the moment is that their lawyer has not been able to obtain a copy of the warrant that allowed the drug raid.

Police Chief defends department’s process regarding drug raid
QSanAntonio.com, May 19, 2009

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus received a standing ovation when he entered the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio meeting room on May 18. This accolade belied the real reason for his presence at the gathering -- the controversy surrounding the conduct of officers during an April 28 drug raid at the home of a lesbian couple. (See story below.)

The Chief began his talk by reviewing his past efforts working with the GLBT community. He recalled how in June 2006 he came to his first Stonewall meeting shortly after he was hired. He mentioned the GLBT sensitivity training that began at the Police Academy in 2007. He reminded the 100-plus people in the room of how much heat he took from Christian extremists when he agreed to be Grand Marshall of the 2007 San Antonio Gay Pride Parade.

Considering this history, the Chief said he was personally hurt by the many emails that blamed him personally for the alleged homophobia that took place during the drug raid. He said he does not condone homophobia on the police force, that there is "no way that it is allowed to happen."

The Chief went on to say that he did not come to the meeting because of activists’ demands, he came because he personally contacted Stonewall and asked to meet with the community. "Good organizations lead from the top," he said, "I think I’ve done that. My being here is an example of that."

The bulk of Chief McManus’ talk concentrated on the process involved in obtaining and executing the warrant that gave the green light for the raid. The two women who live in the home were not named as suspects. The police, using information obtained by an informant, were looking for a man named Randy who was allegedly seen in the house with methamphetamine.

The women, who have lived in the house for only three months, deny knowing anyone named Randy. No evidence was found that the couple was involved in making or selling drugs.

According to McManus, "the warrant far exceeded the court’s standards for probable cause. I’m satisfied the warrant was good." He advised his audience to "let it all play out before you come to a conclusion."

Attending the meeting with the Chief was Captain Gary M. Smith, an SAPD section chief assigned to covert operations. At the Chief’s urging, Capt. Smith went over many of the details involved in how police plan drug raids and how they must build a case in order to obtain a warrant.

The one thing Chief McManus did not specifically address was the allegations surrounding officers’ conduct and speech. "As far as inappropriate comments -- No one in this room was there, therefore no one can definitely say what happened." He added that he’s started an internal investigation to review the conduct of the officers involved in the raid. The findings of the investigation will be made public only if any instance of wrongdoing is found.

The women at the center of the controversy, Lindsay and Carolyn, were at the meeting but arrived late and were not introduced to the audience or to the Chief. They admitted that they were "trying to fly under the radar."

After the meeting Lindsay told QSanAntonio, "We were a little hurt that Chief McManus painted us as criminals or implied that we associated with criminals. This is not who we are. Drugs are not a part of our lives. It is hard to hear that these men were only doing their job."

Lindsay also said that the couple had filed an internal affairs complaint with the SAPD and retained the services of an attorney. "I would love for this to be a fair and balanced investigation. The fact is that we were at our home minding our own law abiding lives when we were busted in on by a small army of men looking for a person who, for all I know, does not even exist."

GLBT activists insist Police Chief address raid on lesbians’ home
QSanAntonio, May 12, 2009

Local GLBT activists say they are angry and are asking Police Chief William McManus to address the conduct of police officers during a drug raid made on the home of an innocent lesbian couple. (See story below.)

The Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio issued an action alert on May 7 asking the community to send their email protests to the Chief. (William.McManus@sanantonio.gov). Some of those protestors have been sharing their emails.

Chief McManus has agreed to meet with the Stonewall Democrats to discuss the incident and the police’s behavior. That meeting will be open to the public. A date will be announced in the next few days.

Excerpts from emails to Police Chief McManus from activists

I know--from your public statements and positions--that these officers' behaviors are nothing you would approve of, and I am writing to request the following:

* These officers should be disciplined, and their discipline made public.
* A public apology from both police departments should be made to the women.
*Damage done to the women's home and personal property should be expensed by the two offending police departments.
* The person(s) who made the false claims against these women is obviously homophobic, should be investigated, and subjected to reprimand as appropriate for making a false police report. If a peace officer, the informant should be required to attend a session of the GLBT training at SAPD Academy.


--Travis Peterson, Activist and member Peace Officer’s Liaison Committee


Apparently, the citizens of this community cannot let our guard down at all, when it comes to being treated as human beings (in whatever setting) by law enforcement. I know that for you it is a never ending series of hurdles when it comes to challenging this "culture" within the department. Chief, please make this unchecked, objectionable, unacceptable behavior stop and hold the officers accountable for their professional demeanor.

-- Patricia S. Castillo, L.M.S.W, The P.E.A.C.E. Initiative


My son is gay and daughter is a lesbian. I tremble at the thought that something as terrifying as the way the lesbian couple was treated this past week could have just as well have been my own precious children. I know you are a fair man, I was at the Stonewall meeting where you spoke. I know this was not your doing, but you have to take the heavy load of correcting this shameful behavior.

-- Yvonne Jonas, President, San Antonio PLFAG

As a lifelong resident and out lesbian you need to know that this community does not tolerate the behavior exhibited by the officers involved in this incident. I fear that I could be the next woman targeted and do not feel safe around any police at this moment. Many individuals already feel unsafe and this incident is adding to that.

Every individual in this community has the right to seek assistance from your officers, to feel safe when faced with your officers and given the level of professionalism that is expected of them that the type of homophobic and woman hating type of behavior not be tolerated among your ranks.


-- Magdalena Alvarado


We have appreciated the relationship you have established with San Antonio's LGBT community and the leadership you have shown by allowing members of our community to provide LGBT diversity training to SAPD cadets and "seasoned" officers. However, the conduct that occurred on April 28 belies the improved relations we had come to expect between the SAPD and San Antonio's LGBT community. Something needs to be done to address this.

-- Dan Graney, President, Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus


We have met with the young ladies, and truly believe that there were terribly humiliating circumstances presented to these young women by the police. I am terribly saddened that such disrespect could be levied upon innocent folks. You and I have met on many occasions; this is not the Chief that I know. Why are these police officers behaving in such an inappropriate manner?

-- Dr. Lynne Armstrong, Co-Chair, Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio

Lesbian couple traumatized by SAPD raid on home
QSanAntonio.com, May 6, 2009

Armed with a warrant based on an erroneous tip from an informant, a team comprised of nine San Antonio Police officers, three Leon Valley patrolmen and a drug-sniffing dog conducted an April 28 raid on the home of an innocent lesbian couple.

The police kicked in the front door, handcuffed the women and accused them of manufacturing and selling methamphetamine.

Carolyn and Lindsey (they asked that their last names not be made public) say they were left shaken and traumatized not only by the experience but also by the conduct of the police officers on the scene.

Both of the women are in their mid-20s. They’ve been together for seven years and lived in San Antonio for four years, having moved here from the Lubbock area. Four months ago, they rented a house in Leon Valley. Carolyn says they chose the location off Bandera Road, near the Leon Valley Police Department, because they felt they would be safe.

"We have a warrant"

It was a quiet Tuesday evening around 9:45 p.m. Lindsey was already in bed and Carolyn was in the back of the house letting the couple’s three dogs in from backyard. "As I turned from the back door toward the front of the house, I saw the front door fly open and several men with flashlights and guns entered yelling, ‘We have a warrant. Get down, get down,’" Carolyn recalls. "I went down on the den floor. Two officers approached me. One told me to put my hands behind my back. I was handcuffed while the other policeman held a gun on me."

Lindsey could hear the commotion from her bed. "An officer burst into the bedroom and said, ‘Get up!’" she says. "From under the covers, I gave a negative shake of my head. He grinned and asked if I was naked which I confirmed. He laughed as he reached into my closet, grabbed a shirt and threw it at me telling me to put it on. As I was putting the shirt on he said, ‘I didn’t say be slow about it.’ I replied, ‘I’m sorry, I’m trying not to expose myself.’"

Another officer entered the room a few seconds later and handed Lindsey a pair of pants. "As I was struggling to get my pants on, a third officer entered the room with a smile on his face. It was humiliating trying to get dressed while three men watched. As I stood up, the first officer grabbed my arm, turned me around and handcuffed me."

"What man lives here?"


For the next hour-and-a-half the women were interrogated individually over and over by police. They were accused of "cooking" meth and of sheltering a drug suspect named Randy who police said lived in the house.

At one point, an officer questioning Lindsey asked, "What man lives here?" She answered, "There is no man living here."

The policeman replied, "Then why is there all of the man stuff? There’s proof -- a Samurai sword and knives and a bow." Lindsey replied that the things belonged to Carolyn. "They gave me a disbelieving look," she says. "We are lesbians," she told them. All of the officers in the room then laughed.

Lindsey says that Detective Tony Arcuri, the SAPD officer leading the raid, responded to her revelation, "See, I knew that about you. I knew that y’all were lesbians. I had someone who was in here last night, they described your house and your girlfriend in there. We’re going to bring in a drug dog and if we find a small stash, we’re going to let that slide. But if we find anything like a lab or anything like that, we’re taking you and your girlfriend in."

Later, Carolyn was brought into the living room with Lindsey where they both sat together on the couch. "The officers talked amongst themselves," says Lindsey. "Two of them were talking about how they liked quirky women because they were freaks in bed. They kept looking at us while they had this conversation."

SAPD: "Detectives were in the right house"

The officers searched the couple’s cars and the house. The drug-sniffing dog was taken through every room. No evidence of a meth lab was found. Try as they did, the police uncovered nothing to support their assertions that Carolyn and Lindsey were drug dealers.

Even though no evidence was found, the couple was told that they were going to continue to be "watched" by police.

Sgt. Gabe Trevino, public information officer for the SAPD, told QSanAntonio in an email, "The detectives were at the right house, meaning the one they intended to search and were granted a search warrant for. They didn't find any narcotics, but that sometimes occurs, since the warrant is based on probable cause, not absolute certainty."

This is of little comfort to Carolyn and Lindsey who insist the incident went far beyond normal police work. Both describe interrogations that they say bordered on emotional abuse. Both say they were made to feel uncomfortable about their sexual orientation. Lindsey says she felt degraded having to dress in front of three policemen.

At the request of QSanAntonio, the SAPD released the names and badge numbers of the nine officers who participated in the raid on Carolyn and Lindsey’s home. They are: T. Arcuri (#2118), E. Lopez (#2026), M. Laurenz (#2466), E. Torres (#2139), G. Durden (#2365), R. Funk (#210), J. Whitney (#2455), W. Roberts (#2389), and W. Hunt (#3072). Three unidentified Leon Valley patrolmen were also on the scene.

Physical and emotional damage

Carolyn says that the damage to the house included a dented and broken front door that came off the hinges. Two bedroom doors were kicked-in, damaging the doorframes and the doors. A picture frame was smashed.

"We also discovered several personal items placed on our bed. These items included books and videos with sexual connotation," she says. "No other items where moved making it obvious these items had been examined more closely."

In another room, says Lindsay, several of Carolyn’s bras, which had been in a box inside of a closet, had been taken out and placed neatly on the bed.

Police also took some of the couple’s mail.

"I do not understand how a search of my home and car was warranted. I also do not know why my, or my girlfriend’s, sexual orientation was an issue of any kind. I am offended by the way our lifestyle was put on display and laughed at."

"I cannot express the anger and humiliation inflicted on both me and my girlfriend from this event," says Carolyn. "The greatest damage was done to my sense of peace and faith in my government. However, our lives are an open book and I feel that during the process of the search and interrogation it must have become obvious that we are good law-abiding citizens, busy making a living and paying our bills."

The women told QSanAntonio that as the policemen were leaving the house, Detective Arcuri came up to them and said, "You might want to get this door fixed. Next time we’ll knock."

SAPD investigating officers' handling of drug raid
San Antonio Express-News, May 15, 2009
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus has launched an administrative investigation into claims that a group of officers mistreated two women when they raided their home last month in search of drugs. No drugs were found and no arrests were made, but the raid has left the women traumatized and upset, especially because they claim they were subjected to anti-gay comments during the ordeal.

Police accused of harassment
KSAT.com, May 14, 2009
Two women claim officers behaved inappropriately because of their sexuality. Nine San Antonio police officers are being accused of displaying inappropriate behavior while executing a search warrant.

SAPD under fire in lesbian encounter
WOAI News Radio, May 13, 2009
San Antonio Police and several officers are under fire following an encounter with a Lesbian couple during a drug raid last month, 1200 WOAI's Michael Board reports.