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'You violated me, you messed up my life': Woman who claims she was sexually assaulted by Phoenix officer during body cavity search speaks out

Erica Reynolds is speaking to 12 News after she said a female Phoenix officer sexually assaulted her by performing a body cavity search for drugs.

Editor's note: This article contains details that some readers may find disturbing. 

Erica Reynolds said she still feels the emotional pain of what happened to her on Dec. 26, 2018.

“Things you did to me, I don’t know how to heal from," Reynolds told 12 News.

Reynolds said she was sexually assaulted by a Phoenix Police officer during what she believes was an illegal body cavity search.

Last year, Reynolds was stopped by police after they said a wiretap showed she bought drugs from a known dealer.

Despite a search at the traffic stop, no drugs were found. 

PREVIOUSLY: Police: Officer suspended 40 hours for violating policy with body cavity search

According to information provided by the Phoenix Police Department, Reynolds was then brought to the South Mountain Precinct.

In her notice of claim, Reynolds said a female officer used a gloved hand and searched inside her rectum and vagina for drugs, but did not find anything. 

The result of the search led to Reynolds bleeding, according to the notice of claim. 

Phoenix Police Department policy has strict guidelines for strip searches. 

According to their own operational orders, a strip search may only be conducted under the following conditions:

1. Permission from the rank of a lieutenant or higher is obtained.

2. The strip search must be reasonable and justification should be documented. 

3. Only an officer who is of the same sex as the suspect will conduct a strip search. 

Policy further stipulates that the person conducting the strip search must limit it to a visual one only, and that "Officers will not insert fingers into a prisoner's body cavities at any time."

The only time physical intrusion is allowed is when there is a search warrant, and then only by a medical doctor. 

Phoenix Police spokeswoman Mercedes Fortune told 12 News the female officer, who was not identified, was suspended for 40 hours for violating policy by inserting her fingers into Reynolds.

According to the notice of claim, after the alleged search, Reynolds went to the Maricopa Medical Center to get a rape kit done. 

However, officials there claimed that the Phoenix Police Department never gave the needed authorization to do the rape kit. 

On Feb. 6, 2019, Reynolds was supposed to speak at a Phoenix City Council meeting and tell her story, according to Facebook posts in the notice of claim. 

RELATED: Woman claims she was sexually assaulted by female Phoenix police officer during body cavity search

That same morning, Reynolds was arrested by police. 

In the interview, she allegedly confessed to stuffing Oxycontin pills in her vagina on Dec. 26. Reynolds' attorneys said in the notice of claim they called multiple police departments including Phoenix police to see if their client was in their custody. 

They would not learn she was in police custody until finding officers posted outside of Reynolds hospital room. Reynolds' attorneys said the conditions of the interview led to a coerced confession. 

“You went inside me, you violated me, you messed up my life," Reynolds said. “You stole emotions from me, you stripped me of things I took for granted.”

Reynolds, who is a mother of two and new grandmother, said after the incident, she felt a change.

“I feel disgraced, like people look at me differently," she said.

Last year, Reynolds settled with the city from $1.6 million over the incident.

“I don’t care about that money, that’s nothing," she added. 

Reynolds said she is still dealing with the ramifications of what happened to her.

“Maybe if I reset, I will feel complete, but nothing will ever complete me.. " Reynolds said. 

“I should be at the park, I should be chilling with the kids.. I'm not none of that," she said. "I have nothing left to give."

Reynolds said she was never treated as a victim and instead had to deal with the pain as her case was discussed by law enforcement, lawyers and the media. 

All she wants, according to Reynolds, is for all the officers involved to be held accountable and to get back to becoming who she was.

“I hope one day I'll be better.. better than this," she said. 

We reached out to the City of Phoenix for comment, who said the city does not provide comments on litigation and settlements.

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