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Woman Who Said SAPD Officer Removed Her Tampon Will Receive $205K From City Of San Antonio

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Court Document
Natalie Simms alleges SAPD detective removed a femanine hygine product during body search

A $205,000 settlement will be awarded to a San Antonio woman who said a female San Antonio police detective removed a tampon from her during a search in the open in the presence of male officers.

The San Antonio City Council approved the settlement Thursday. A federal lawsuit alleges that in August 2016, Natalie Simms was waiting for her boyfriend outside her vehicle when San Antonio police officers asked if they could search her car for drugs. Police then asked if they could search her. A female detective pulled down Simms’ shorts, pressed on her vagina and removed a tampon.

The detective named in the lawsuit is Mara Wilson.

“Officer Wilson knew that she could not expose Natalie's pubic hair, vagina, or other parts of her body which are so intimate as to be covered up regularly in public. Unfortunately, Officer Wilson's knowledge was no concern to her and did not guide her search. Officer Wilson instead chose to culminate her search by conducting a vaginal cavity search,” the lawsuit stated.

Wilson retired in 2017 and received no disciplinary action according to the suit. 

Simms’ Attorney Dean Malone said the settlement is not closure, but Simms was glad to have the incident behind her.

“Even though the defendants have never apologized and have never admitted to liability, I think the fact that money is being paid is – at least to her – is an acknowledgement that she went though was wrong,” Malone said.

Natalie D. Simms v. City of San Antonio and Mara Lynn Wilson by Texas Public Radio on Scribd

During a weekly press briefing a day before the council’s vote, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said he couldn’t speak to the specifics of the case due to litigation but was supportive of the settlement.

“Every city in America that has public safety as part of its job responsibilities is going to have claims made on occasion, we want to make sure whenever there is something done justice is served to the public, and we will continue to strive for that,” Nirenberg said.

Council approved the settlement under consent agenda where numerous items for consideration are approved all at once. No council members commented on the settlement.

“We evaluate cases and look for potential resolutions without the necessity of proceeding to trial. We were able to resolve this matter with this proposed settlement and believe it to be in the best interest of all involved,” San Antonio City Attorney Andy Segovia said in an e-mailed statement.

Editor's Note: A previous headline listed an incorrect amount as the settlement. The correct settlement amount is $205K.

Joey Palacios can be reached at Joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules.