Chicago Police Allegedly Strip, Photograph Crash Victim

Robert Pursell Contributor
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The family of a young woman killed in a fatal 2009 drunk driving accident is suing the officers who investigated the accident, claiming the officers stripped their daughter naked before taking photos of her naked body at the scene of the crime.

Jessica Mejia, a then 20-year-old college student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, was killed on New Years Eve while riding as the passenger in a car driven by her ex-boyfriend Nicholas Sord, the 22-year-old son of a wealthy Chicago developer, who was extremely intoxicated.

Sord, whose blood alcohol content was nearly three times the legal limit, crashed his Mercedes into a pole in a Chicago suburb, and Mejia was killed in the accident.

That’s where, according to Mejia’s family, the night went from tragic to something far more sinister.

In a 2010 lawsuit Mejia’s family claimed that at the scene of the crash, Cook County Sheriff’s officers took her lifeless body, stripped her naked, and took photos of her body in various poses, none of which were required by protocol. In doing so, they allowed other responders and passersby to view her naked body.

“To see the way my daughter’s body was handled, at the scene, was so confusing and so disturbing,” Christina Mejia said. “I just didn’t understand why they did that.”

The Mejia family lawyer, Don Perry, echoed that sentiment.

“This was a young lady that just died and was treated with less dignity than a deer carcass you find on the side of the road,” Perry told the Chicago Tribune.

Now, more than five year after their initial case was filed, the Mejia family’s civil suit against the Cook County Sheriff’s Office is set to begin on Monday.

For their part, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office admits no wrongdoing in the case, but interestingly enough, after initially claiming its officers never took any naked photos of Mejia, the Sheriff’s Office later claimed they did in fact take the photos as part of, “standard operating procedure”.

“In no way were these photos intended to cause harm to the family,” said Cara Smith, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office. Smith claims the photos taken were responsible in securing a conviction against Sord, who is currently serving a 56-month term in prison for the crash.

To date, no Cook County Sheriff’s officers have been punished.