Man claims he was groped by cops

July 14, 2009 5:35:28 PM PDT
A Willis man is suing the City of Conroe and two of its police officers, claiming his rights were violated during a traffic stop two years ago. The man was pulled over on Interstate 45 in Conroe. His vehicle was searched for drugs, but what happened next is what is causing debate.

The lawsuit was filed at the federal courthouse in downtown Houston. Derek Lagway, 31, claims he was subjected to unreasonable search and seizure during a traffic stop. It's an incident that he says has forever changed his life.

Nine years ago as a star running back for the Baylor Bears, Derek Lagway was on top of the world. Today, the football player turned businessman is taking on a different kind of opponent off the field.

"I've never been in that situation before. I question why they did it all the time," said Lagway.

Two years ago, Conroe Police and DPS pulled over Lagway along a northbound stretch of I-45 between Conroe and Willis. According to court documents, police officers Brent Stowe and Eric Burke asked Lagway to submit to a search of his vehicle for illegal drugs.

"I was like, 'For drugs? I don't even sell drugs. Why do you want to search my vehicle for drugs?'" said Lagway.

Lagway consented to the search. While police never found any drugs, it's what happened next that left the former football star hurt, embarrassed, and humiliated.

According to court documents, Officer Stowe groped Lagway with his pants down in full view of the slow-moving traffic backed up on I-45.

"Man, I cried. I was hurt, you know. I asked my mom, 'Why are they doing me like this?'" said Lagway.

Lagway claims the search violated his civil rights. He is suing the City of Conroe and the two officers.

"They never explained what the suspicion was. No one had called them or anything on the truck. He wasn't weaving or anything, so it makes me think they are just stopping people there on I-45 that fit some profile," said Lagway's attorney Randall Kallinen.

The attorney representing the City of Conroe and Officer Stowe told us in a statement, "In the preliminary stages of the investigation, it appears there are major exaggerations with the plaintiff's complaint. I believe the video tape from the squad car's dash camera will show that."

Lagway says he's asked for the video and hasn't seen it. It could take a few months for the court to order police to turn over the dash cam video.

"I don't necessarily know what I want to happen to them. I just don't want them to be able to go and do that to any other citizen," Lagway said.

After about an hour of searching, Lagway says he didn't receive a ticket, a warning, or an apology.

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