ONLY ON 3: WPD, NHCSO named in illegal strip search suit

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Submitted: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 4:32am
Updated: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 8:20pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A complaint filed in federal district court alleges that two Wilmington Police officers and a New Hanover County Sheriff’s deputy violated a man’s rights when they performed a strip search on him in public.

On the night of Feb. 5, 2011, Dennis Debock was giving two friends who had too much to drink a ride, when Wilmington Police Officers William Morris and Michael Habash pulled him over on Red Cross Street.

“They searched him about five times trying to find something and obviously they were looking for something,” said Debock’s attorney Katy Parker.

Debock refused to let the officers search his car, but after prescription Adderall was found in his pocket a K9 unit was called in.

After the K9 allegedly alerted his handler there were drugs in the car, Debock says Deputy Robert Mills performed a public strip search in front of an on-looking crowd.

“He was falsely accused of being a drug addict, and then he was strip searched, and essentially sexually assaulted on the side of the road in front of a crowd of spectators,” Parker said.

Officers charged Debock with possessing drug paraphernalia and possessing prescribed medications in unlabeled bottles, but both charges were later dismissed by the district attorney’s office.

Now Debock is seeking justice from those who are sworn to protect and serve.

“This was a very embarrassing, upsetting, and humiliating experience for him and a scary experience,” Parker said. “He felt like if he didn’t stand up and challenge this that it might happen to other people, and he really wants to prevent this from happening to anybody else.”

The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on the story because it is a pending lawsuit. A Wilmington Police Department spokeswoman has yet to return our call.

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15 Comments on "ONLY ON 3: WPD, NHCSO named in illegal strip search suit"

2015 years 8 months ago

Not all NHSO are bad – however, there are definitely some that take their positions to a whole new level. My fiance called 911 for assistance to remove a belligerent ex from his residence. She had broken things in his home, threatened his life & stole items from him. No one showed up. 2nd call to 911 to get her off his property! She left when she finally started seeing Sheriffs cars pull up. 12 to be exact! 12!! For a domestic dispute?? Long story short, he became very nervous with the amount of Deputies on his porch & surrounding property. He called 911 again and told dispatch she had left and to please ask all the Deputies to leave. This did not happen! He opened the door to speak to the Deputies and was run down in his home, dragged out and thrown face down on his porch. 6 Deputies on 1 man. He was tased several times, kicked several times in the face & head by another Deputy, while another held his arms up in back of him & 2 others held his legs! He was arrested for 911 abuse. All of this was done in front of witnesses. Then without a search warrant, entered his home while he was handcuffed and being driven to jail. If this isnt civil rights violations, I dont know what is. When you cant feel safe to call for 911 assistance…instead, get beat up! These are the very people who are supposed to protect you! Not harm you.

2015 years 8 months ago

I think they should change their uniforms to fit their actions,something in all black with a red and white arm band a deaths head badge and an SS flash on the coller.

cops gone wild
2015 years 8 months ago

Well good for you Dennis it is ashame that you have to hire an attorney to protect your rights when these officers get paid to violate them.

2015 years 8 months ago

Think back to when we had Sid. How many lawsuits were filed against the department when he was sheriff? A LOT! Do you not remember all the media blitz about all the problems that happened during his reign? I think he needs to stay home and keep drawing his retirement.

Old Guy
2015 years 8 months ago

Apparently YOU have never worked for “Good ole Sid”! He was not only a crook but a tyrant as well. The meanest most untrustworthy human being on the planet. No wonder he only got “9” votes for County Commission election several years ago. In fact didn’t Berger beat him for the seat? Well he can add that to his accomplishments. HAH!!! He was the one that started all this stuff to begin with. “Fix the problems” what a joke he was the problem. This is why Ed McMahon is having so much trouble now trying to fix “Good ole Sid’s” mistakes such as Rhonda Smith and her controlling ways which Sid trained her to do.

Sid’s past is his own worst enemy! Of course being a former Carolina Beach Lifeguard what does one expect from trash. It is what it is!

Sid just proved one thing! Idiot! What public official endorses a man for a job, lets him work the job for almost three terms and then take it back. What a joke. And by the way why would we elect a person that is as sickly as him. He probably will croak in office if given any chance at all.

2015 years 8 months ago

This is just another long list of embarrassments for the NHSD. Bring Sid back!!!!!

coos gone wild
2015 years 8 months ago

Is that all you got to attack his lawyer I think everybody knows including the lawyers that they are just a liar for hire. Let’s talk about the real story here the possible violation of Mr. Debock’s civil rights by the very people that are supposed to protect those same rights.

2015 years 8 months ago

How do you “essentially” sexually assault someone Ms. Parker? It’s either sexual assault – or it isn’t. For people that have been a victim of sexual assault, this attempt to sensationalize your case with such a insinuation is a slap in their face. If a sexual assault did occur, it would have been included in the lawsuit. Especially if it occurred on the side of the road in front of a bunch of spectators. Stooping this low is the kind of crap that gives lawyers a bad name.

2015 years 8 months ago

What part of civil did you not understand?

2015 years 8 months ago

not taking their side. they were wrong!!! very wrong if this is how it went down. it is a civil rights case, they cant plead the 5th nor will they go to prison.

2015 years 8 months ago

Have fun in prison, officers!

2015 years 8 months ago

That just seems to be the way it is these days.

On another note … “giving two friends who had “drank” too much a ride” … Nice grammar there, ace reporter … You must have been one of the posters who voted to blow off make up school days in the latest poll.

2015 years 8 months ago

That’s enough, Marc. . . calm down!

2015 years 8 months ago

It will only keep getting worse. NHSD NEEDS HELP!!! Hopefully new sheriff will clear it up!!!

-Concerned FORMER citizen

2015 years 8 months ago

Are you kidding me…..this really didn’t happen did it..?