An off-duty sheriff's officer employed at a local grocery store in Paterson, NJ accused a transgender person of shoplifting and forced the accused to display genitalia.
I need to see what's in your pants.
The officer, identified as "John Doe" and wearing an Essex County sheriff's uniform, was working security at Food Fair on Market Street in Paterson when he approached the woman about 10 p.m. and made the demands, the suit states.
In response to the officer's demands, plaintiff stated she is a female who identifies as transgender and wears a prosthetic penis.
The officer told the woman and the store manager he would call a female officer to inspect the woman's pants, the suit claims.
The woman tried to leave, but the officer insisted he needed to inspect her pants, the suit states.
At this point, the woman "began begging for help and felt scared, humiliated, intimidated and abused," the suit states, adding that she sought help from a cashier "to no avail."
Shockingly, rather than wait for a female police officer to arrive, a female cashier was called to conduct an invasive inspection.
Attorney Thomas A. McKinney of Morristown, who filed the suit, said his client was born a woman and is in the process of transitioning into a man.
Plaintiff identifies as a transgender woman who wears a prosthetic penis. My understanding is that (the officer) saw something in her pants, which was the prosthetic device, and thought she took something from the store and was hiding it. She didn't steal anything. She didn't touch a single thing in that store.
Inspection took place in a restroom.
During this inspection, plaintiff showed the cashier the prosthetic penis and her vagina.
As the woman walked out of the restroom crying, the officer said, "I am so sorry."
The suit seeks a jury trial, along with compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorneys' fees.
A spokesman for the Essex County Sheriff's Office questioned whether the unnamed officer even works for the county.
Full disclosure: I am a former Essex County resident.