A South Carolina woman who says a Myrtle Beach police officer took voyeur photos of her while he was responding to her apartment for a domestic violence call is suing.
The woman — called “Jane Doe” in the lawsuit to protect her privacy — filed the lawsuit against the City of Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach Police Department, officer Justin Vazquez (who is the alleged voyeur) and Police Chief Amy Brock.
On July 23, 2020, Vazquez responded to a domestic violence call on Hawthorne Lane in Myrtle Beach with a female officer, according to the lawsuit.
Because Doe was a witness to multiple criminal domestic violence incidents, Vazquez and the other officer asked her a few questions about what happened as they walked into her apartment, the lawsuit said.
After talking with the officers briefly, the female officer exited the apartment and left Vazquez alone with Doe, according to the lawsuit.
Vazquez asked if Doe had any surveillance cameras in her apartment. He said cameras could help with the investigation.
As Doe told Vazquez she doesn’t have any cameras, Vazquez approached Doe from behind and lifted up her dress with a cellphone camera directed under her dress, the lawsuit said.
Doe moved away from him and Vazquez left the apartment, the lawsuit said.
Several minutes later, Vazquez and the female officers returned with a witness statement for Doe, the lawsuit said. They asked her to fill it out.
After she finished the statement, Vazquez read it while outside. He decided a few things needed to be added to it, so he went back to Doe’s apartment while the female officer was questioning other witnesses, according to the lawsuit.
Vazquez entered Doe’s apartment and again, the lawsuit said.
He then again moved behind Doe, lifted up her dress, pointed his cell phone at her body and took a photo, according to the lawsuit.
Feeling uncomfortable, Doe told Vazquez she had to get ready to go out and that he should leave, the lawsuit said.
As Doe was getting ready, Vazquez rang her doorbell several times, but she didn’t answer, the lawsuit said.
During this incident, Vazquez was on duty for the Myrtle Beach Police — in his uniform, using his badge and police gun, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit said that the sexual assault caused Doe mental anguish and emotional distress.
North Myrtle Beach attorney Adrian Dejeu is representing Doe in the lawsuit.
She is suing for negligence and 14th amendment violations.
“Vazquez sexually assaulted (Doe), a witness of a crime he was assigned to investigate, while wearing a police-issued uniform and badge,” the lawsuit said. “Vazquez imposed himself in such a way that (Doe) felt intimidated, coerced, and without a choice but to comply with his demands.”
Voyeurism is a crime in South Carolina.
WMBF first reported on the lawsuit.
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