TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A woman is suing employees of a Florida jail after they allegedly forced her to spend nearly 10 hours in a cell surrounded by 40 men because they suspected she was transgender, the Miami Herald reported.
Fior Pichardo de Veloz, 55, was had come to Miami in 2013 to witness the birth of her grandchild when she was arrested at the airport on an outstanding drug charge.
The arresting officer listed her gender as female. She was strip-searched, booked into Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center and processed as a woman, the report states.
Due to her history of high blood pressure, Pichardo was taken to a medical unit to be examined as a precaution. A nurse noted she had been taking hormone pills and asked her whether she was a man. Despite Pichardo’s denial of this, the nurse added this note to her file: “Transgender, male parts, female tendencies.”
The nurse told the doctor, who reclassified Pichardo as male without an examination, according to a newly-released appeals court opinion.
Pichardo was then transferred to the all-male jail Metro West Detention Center and shared a cell with about 40 men, who jeered at her yelling ‘Mami! Mami!’, according to the report. She said she was terrified to go to the bathroom and “urinated on herself instead.”
Jail workers eventually realized their mistake once family members went to the jail where she was originally processed and demanded to know why she was moved.
She was taken out of her holding cell and given a new examination. She claimed several male officers laughed at her during that examination and someone took a photo.
Once nurses realized the mistake, she was taken back to Turner Guilford Knight.
Pichardo sued the county and jail staff for negligence and “cruel and unusual punishment,” but the case was thrown out by a judge who said the jail staffers were protected from a trial for negligence.
But this month, an appeals court ruled the conduct of the nurse and doctor amounts to “deliberate indifference, the newspaper reported.
“Every reasonable prison officer and medical personnel would have known that wrongfully misclassifying a biological female as a male inmate and placing that female in the male population of a detention facility was unlawful,” Judge Frank Hull wrote in an unanimous opinion.