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Dancers at second San Diego strip club allege police mistreatment

Law EnforcementCrime, Law and JusticeDanceEntertainment

SAN DIEGO - A second set of strippers has filed a claim with City Hall claiming they were subjected to rude and humiliating treatment by officers from the Police Department vice squad.

Attorney Dan Gilleon filed a claim on behalf of dancers at Expose, True Gentlemen's Club. Two weeks ago he filed a similar claim for dancers at Cheetahs Gentlemen's Club.

Both claims are for more than $10,000. A claim is often a forerunner to a lawsuit.

Dancers at both locations say their rights were violated by officers who arrived for a routine inspection and proceeded to take pictures of the nude and semi-nude dancers.

The dancers were detained and required to "expose body parts so that the police could ostensibly photograph their tattoos," the claims assert.

Nude entertainment establishments require a city permit, which gives police the right to make "regular inspections" and requires employees to show their identification cards, according to police spokesman Lt. Kevin Mayer.

Taking photographs of the employees, including of distinctive tattoos, is a routine part of the inspection process, Mayer added. Inspections are meant to  deter the employees from engaging in illegal acts.

"The San Diego code mandates we make these inspections," Mayer said after the Cheetahs claim was filed. "This is  not a criminal matter, this is a regulatory matter."

If the strippers were dancing, or waiting their turn to dance, officers  waited to interview and photograph them, Mayer said.

Gilleon said that while the permit process does permit such inspections,  police went overboard at Cheetahs and Expose, detaining the dancers for more than an hour  against their will "without probable cause" and making them pose in various  positions.

One officer "even had the audacity to tell the (dancers) to 'smile,'" the claims assert.

"Either the officers acted maliciously, knowing they were violating  claimants' civil rights (e.g., 4th Amendment) or SDPD's failure to train the  officers amounted to deliberate indifference to the claimants' rights,"  according to the claims. 

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Twitter: @LATsandiego

tony.perry@latimes.com

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