The Cook County Sheriff’s Office has been cleared of allegations that they inappropriately took nude photographs of a DUI crash victim. On May 1, 2015, nearly five years after the fatal crash, jurors found in favor of the Cook County Sheriff’s department stating that they followed protocol.
The lawsuit, filed by the decedent’s family, alleged that the officers violated the decedent’s privacy by stripping off all her clothes and taking pictures of her on a tarp. The lawsuit also alleged that the officers stripped the decedent of dignity by allowing people passing by to view her naked body while they photographed her. In addition, the family alleged that the activities by the officers perpetuated rumors that the accident was caused by the decedent attempting to have sex with the driver, her boyfriend, rather than a result of the driver being intoxicated.
In response, the Cook County Sheriff’s Department testified that they followed all protocol. They testified that photographs were instrumental in convicting the driver as he had stated that the decedent had been straddling him at the time of the accident. In addition, Sheriff’s personnel testified that not pausing to cover up the body parts after undressing her was part of protocol in order to not risk losing trace evidence and to work with efficiency.
The family members of the deceased sought a monetary verdict of between $2.5 and $3.5 million as a result of the emotional distressed caused by the actions of the Cook County Sheriffs. However, the jurors found that the Sheriff’s Department did not cause any emotional distress by “utter disregard and indifference” or with intent.