Miami Beach Police Sued for Allegedly Humiliating Nude Woman Over $16 Cab Fare

Photo by Brittany Shammas
Rarely is it worth calling the cops over anything less than $20. Too much can go wrong to bring police into a fight over something worth the cost of a fancy sandwich. Candace Padavick, a Miami Beach resident, says she lived that very nightmare in 2013: After she couldn't pay a $16 cab fare in cash, Padavick's cabbie called the cops. Padavick, in the meantime, went inside to take a shower, and her doorman paid the cabbie.

But the cops still arrived, handcuffed Padavick, and took her to a police station — all while she was nude, she claims. Now she has finally filed a lawsuit over the matter, after she threatened to take legal action against the cops in 2014. Padavick is suing for false arrest, battery, conducting an illegal search, and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

"She suffered grievously, was brought into public scandal with great humiliation; endured emotional distress in the form of shame, humiliation, degradation, mental suffering, and aggravation of her physical and mental condition; and suffered damaged reputation," reads the lawsuit, which was filed Monday in Miami's federal court.

Padavick's lawyers, Gary Kollin and Ken Swartz, declined to speak to New Times. A spokesperson for Miami Beach Police said the department does not comment on pending litigation.

But by Padavick's account, the cops in this case displayed a remarkable lack of human courtesy or care when they barged into her home around 2 a.m. April 15, 2013. According to the suit, Padavick and a male friend hailed a cab on the way home from a night out in Miami Beach. When the driver reached Padavick's apartment complex, she offered to pay by credit card, but the cabbie declined (even though he had a card reader in his back seat).

They argued for a bit until the cabbie let Padavick walk to her apartment to find some cash. While the cabbie was waiting, he apparently grew impatient and called police. Sensing some sort of issue, a doorman at the building handed the cab driver $20 to smooth over the ordeal.

But officers soon arrived and, according to Padavick, told the doorman he couldn't cover her ride. Instead, the cops made the cabbie return the $20 and then marched up to knock on Padavick's door.

"While Ms. Padavick was still in the shower, she was startled by loud banging on the door of her apartment," the suit says. "She quickly came out of the shower, threw on a bathrobe, and wrapped a towel on her wet hair. Wearing only the bathrobe, she went to the front door, and through the peephole of the front door, she saw the defendant officers standing outside her apartment door."

Padavick told the cops they couldn't come in without a warrant. But, according to the suit, they pushed the door in and grabbed her by the arm. The suit claims the cops yanked Padavick into the hallway — and her robe fell off in the process.

"As she had no undergarments, her body was completely exposed to the two male officers and the two male friends who were standing nearby," the suit says. "The defendant officer pushed her face forward against the apartment interior hallway wall, pinning her against the wall, causing scratches on her back and bruising on her arms."

Then, Padavick claims, the cops barged into her home and rummaged through her belongings without a warrant or justification, all while she was pinned nude against the wall in the hallway. Eventually, one of the cops moved her back inside, but they neglected to cover her while as many as 11 officers walked into and out of her home, opened her drawers, and told her to "shut up."

Eventually, the suit says, a female officer arrived and draped a dress over Padavick — but even that dress was see-through and barely covered her body. She was escorted to a nearby police station.

There, she says, the humiliation continued. The suit says a male cop lifted her dress to switch out the metal handcuffs for plastic flex cuffs and exposed Padavick's entire body in the process.

"No female was present," the suit says. "During the course of changing the cuffs and lifting Ms. Padavick’s dress, all three officers were able to visually inspect the genitals, buttocks, and anus of the plaintiff."

She was then taken to the Miami-Dade County Jail while still wearing the see-through dress. She passed numerous male corrections officers and was eventually strip-searched by a team of women. She was then charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer without violence, resisting an officer with violence, and theft. The Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office later dropped every charge against her.

Padavick is also suing for retaliation: She claims the whole ordeal began after the cops grew angry because she wouldn't let them into her home without a warrant.