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

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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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