SAN DIEGO -- A lawyer for 25 strippers has filed a claim with City Hall asserting that police violated the strippers' rights by detaining them and forcing them to pose for pictures.
Dan Gilleon, attorney for dancers at Cheetahs Gentlemen's Club, which bills itself as the city's top spot for nude entertainment, said the strippers' rights were violated by an estimated 10 officers who arrived at the club recently for what was said to be a routine inspection.
The claim, filed Monday, is a forerunner to a lawsuit. The claim asserts that the strippers are due more than $10,000.
Nude entertainment establishments require a city permit, which gives police the right to make "regular inspections" and require employees to show their identification cards, according to police department 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. "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, detaining the dancers for more than an hour against their will "without probable cause" and making them pose in various positions.
"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 claim filed by Gilleon.
Cheetahs manager Rich Buonantony said that while the dancers would have been glad to show their ID cards, the police were excessive in making them line up and wait, particularly since some of dancers were already nude and others were semi-nude.
"These girls' jobs are tough enough already," he said in an interview.