Young Katy mother sues after alleged rape by Harris Co. jailer following marijuana arrest

KTRK logo
Friday, May 4, 2018
EMBED <>More Videos

A woman who was arrested for marijuana in a Katy ISD school zone claims she was raped when she went to the Harris County jail.

KATY, Texas (KTRK) -- A young wife and mother says she was raped by a jailer in the Harris County jail after a questionable arrest related to possession of a small amount of marijuana.

Emma Lopez says her nightmare began on March 1 around 2 p.m. when she was driving home on Mason Road.

A Katy ISD police officer pulled her over for speeding, just a few blocks from her home.

In police bodycam video examined by Eyewitness News, you can hear Lopez being cooperative and polite during the stop. A few minutes into the stop, the officer asked her about marijuana.

"The minute I stopped you, I could smell marijuana on your car," the officer said.

At that point, the video shows Lopez explaining that she uses marijuana to control her seizures. She also points to the small grinder in the car, where a small amount of pot was inside.

"I have seizures and I don't even smoke very much," she can be heard saying.

But the officer alleged she was in a school zone, and the amount of pot was too much.

"Unfortunately, you're going to jail today," the officer said to Lopez.

It only got worse from there. Sometime after, she was arrested and transferred to the Harris County jail. That night, Lopez says a jailer raped her.

"I was moved to a holding cell by myself," Lopez recalled. A few hours after that, a jailer allegedly came into the cell. "After he asked me to get up and put me up against the wall and handcuffed me, he pulled my pants down and pulled his pants down and I froze. I asked him not to do it. He said, 'If I say anything, he would do it again, and I wouldn't be able to say anything.'"

In an exclusive interview with Eyewitness News, Lopez and her attorneys say she outcried to several female jailers after she was assaulted. They say the female jailers told Lopez to sit down and continue to wait to be processed.

After she was released from jail, Lopez was examined at a hospital and a rape kit was collected. A Harris County Sheriff's investigator was called.

"There's surveillance, there's jail calls, there's a number of elements that support Mrs. Lopez in her outcry in what happened to her," said Michael Edwards, Lopez's Houston attorney.

"People are incarcerated for serious crimes, and we throw a young woman in jail for .48 grams," said Gregory Kulis, a Chicago-based attorney who specializes in police abuse cases. "She has been seeking psychiatric help. She is traumatized over this incident, and we believe a jury will justly compensate her."

In a statement, the Harris County Sheriff's Department confirmed the investigation:

"The Harris County Sheriff's Office is investigating an allegation that a female jail inmate was sexually assaulted by an employee inside the Harris County Jail in early March. Investigators have interviewed the victim, reviewed video recordings from inside the jail, and are taking all other necessary steps to ensure a thorough investigation is conducted. The investigation is ongoing, and no charges have been filed at this time. The Harris County Sheriff's Office takes these allegations seriously, and we are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all inmates entrusted in our care," the statement said.

Attorneys also contend that Lopez should have never been arrested, given that Harris County District Attorney's Office has not been prosecuting people found with small amounts of marijuana.

Katy ISD says the fact that she was initially stopped in a school zone makes possession of any amount of marijuana an arrestable offense.

Follow Miya Shay on Facebook and Twitter.