Strip search victims speak out

CREATED Jul 11, 2013 - UPDATED: Jul 11, 2013

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MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Five men are suing the city of Milwaukee over strip searches that led to criminal charges against four officers.

Two federal lawsuits were filed Wednesday against the city, police chief and several officers. The suits seek unspecified damages.

The men allege officers probed their rectal and genital areas without probable cause and that officers claimed they were looking for drugs. Two plaintiffs say no drugs were found, but they were still arrested.

Anthony Pettis and Jerrold Ezell are two of the alleged victims. They attended a news conference announcing the lawsuits. The African-Americans say Caucasian MPD officers conducted the illegal strip searches. 
 
Attorney John Loevy represents the men. He said officers knew what they were doing was wrong.
 
He said, "it tolerated this practice, it turned a blind eye and people in a position of power who could have stopped it, instead encouraged it."
 
"I know there is a lot of other people out there who need help, who are seeking help, it's time to come up," said Pettis referring to other possible victims.

In Wisconsin, police officers are prohibited from doing any cavity searches. Such searches can be performed only by a doctor, physician's assistant or registered nurse.

One officer has been convicted of conducting illegal strip searches. Charges are pending against the other three.

Messages left Thursday with the Milwaukee city attorney and the police department weren't immediately returned.