A dancer at a topless bar is suing the city of Irwindale and one of its police officers, alleging he sexually harassed her during two traffic stops in 2019 in which she admitted she was driving while intoxicated.
The plaintiff is identified only as Jane Doe C.M.A. in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit brought Tuesday against the city and Officer Mario Camacho, alleging sexual assault under color of authority, civil rights violations and negligence. Doe seeks unspecified compensatory damages against both defendants and punitive damages from Camacho.
Irwindale City Attorney Adrian Guerra could not be immediately reached for comment. Guerra was appointed to his post in September 2020, according to an agenda from a regular meeting of the Irwindale city council on September 23, 2020.
In July 2019, Camacho, who had previously been demoted from the rank of lieutenant for alleged misconduct involving a female prospective department employee, stopped Doe while driving his police cruiser as she drove away from a strip club near Arcadia at about 2:15 a.m., according to the suit.
Camacho told Doe he stopped her on Peck Road because she failed to make a turn signal and due to his suspicion she had been drinking, the suit states. Doe admitted she drank about eight cocktails at her job during a five- hour shift and was “significantly intoxicated,” the suit states.
“Towering over plaintiff, Officer Camacho initiated conversation with her while she was sitting on the curb in her revealing outfit,” the suit states.
The officer questioned Doe about her work as a dancer at the topless sports bar Knockouts and asked for her stage name and work schedule, the suit states.
“Officer Camacho then made a point to tell plaintiff that he was going to go to her place of employment during the days when she’s dancing,” the suit states.
Instead of giving Doe a field sobriety test, Camacho asked for her phone, which he took and scrolled through looking for intimate photos of her, according to the suit. The officer later allowed a friend to pick up Doe because of her intoxication, the suit states.
Camacho stopped Doe under similar circumstances after she left the club at about 2 a.m. Aug. 25, 2019, once again while she admitted she was drunk, according to the suit.
“Officer Camacho initiated contact by telling plaintiff she had been speeding and swerving and because he suspected she had been drinking,” the suit states.
Camacho gave Doe an alcohol screening test, but turned off his video recording device in alleged violation of department policy, the suit states. Doe had a blood-alcohol level of .15, but Camacho did not notify the police station, according to the suit.
Camacho allegedly ordered Doe to follow him in her car as he led her to a gravel lot near the gravel pits and rock quarries that are abundant in Irwindale.
“Once there, plaintiff became afraid of not only being arrested, but of Officer Camacho raping her,” the suit states.
Doe repeatedly asked Camacho why he brought her to the dark, but instead of answering he showed her video footage of her driving before he stopped her, the suit states.
“He directed plaintiff to sit on the driver’s side seat inside his SUV police cruiser and proceeded to lean over her body to turn on the video footage of plaintiff driving,” the suit states.
Camacho “pressed his whole upper torso against plaintiff’s groin and legs” and brushed his arms up against Doe’s body, including her breasts, the suit states.
Camacho gave Doe water, then asked her to transfer the water from her mouth to his, kissing her in the process, the suit states. He allowed her to drive to her home outside of Irwindale, but followed her and told her she “owed him” because he did not arrest her, the suit states.
During the next few days, Camacho repeatedly sent texts to Doe trying to set up a meeting, the suit states.
“Plaintiff felt trapped because Officer Camacho knew both where she worked and where she lived,” the suit states.
Doe spoke to a friend who recommended she call a lawyer to protect herself, the suit states. After calling an attorney, she reported Camacho’s alleged misconduct to a local police department and the plaintiff believes he was placed on administrative leave, according to the suit.