Lawsuit against Miami-Dade County after transgender woman says she was strip searched

A transgender woman is one of three people suing Miami-Dade County and jail officials for their treatment after being arrested on a misdemeanor charge.

MIAMI, Fla. – Two transgender women and a transgender man are suing Miami Dade County and several jail officials. They claim corrections officers shamed, ridiculed, and forced them to expose themselves for amusement.

One of the plaintiffs Local 10 News spoke with said a corrections officer even pulled their hair thinking it was a wig.

The plaintiffs describe the experience as dehumanizing and are suing for change.

Angel Torres-Bucci is speaking out for the first time after filing a lawsuit against Miami Dade County and several jail officials for discriminatory treatment after being arrested on a misdemeanor charge.

“It just made life kind of feel like a joke. There was no need for them to be dehumanizing . . . to be horrible people,” Torres-Bucci said.

The Miami native was taken into custody at a Black Lives Matter protest in the summer of 2020 and was transported to Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.

(In 2017, a memorandum instructed a procedural directive and revisions on transgender inmates. See it below.)

The lawsuit claims after Torres-Bucci identified as trans and refused to be booked as a man, corrections officers forced the trans woman into a strip search.

“And then I was asked to do a 360 so they could see everything,” she said.

We asked her: “So they purposely wanted to see your genitals?”

Torres-Bucci responded: “Oh, yeah 100% that is exactly. . . That is the only thing that made sense.”

Attorney Gabriel Arkles said: “Under some circumstances, jail officials can do strip searches, but it has to be for a legitimate reason like trying to find contraband. Just wanting to see what is between a trans person’s legs is absolutely not a legitimate reason.”

Jail policy says transgender inmates shall be classified and housed based on housing available, safety and security needs, and their gender identity. Clearly, these plaintiffs say this did not happen.

Local 10 News reached out to Miami-Dade County and the Department of Corrections. Corrections sent us their transgender policy; no one from the county responded.

(See the lawsuit below. Warning: Details in the lawsuit are graphic.)

About the Author:

Christian De La Rosa joined Local 10 News in April 2017 after spending time as a reporter and anchor in Atlanta, San Diego, Orlando and Panama City Beach.