Trans woman alleges abuse by Savannah police, jail officials

Del Valle was taken to jail where she said deputies consistently referred to her as “thing,” “brotha” and “nigga.”

However, the deputy chief of the Chatham County jail, who said Del Valle is “technically a male” and consistently referred to her with a male pronoun, said at all times Del Valle was kept isolated from other male inmates as part of its policy. Del Valle was in jail for three days before being bailed out by her cousin, mother and uncle for $3,500.

“First off, Ashley is still a man,”  said Roy Harris, deputy chief of the jail. “I think he’s had some surgery, breast implants. But technically he is still a male which poses a problem. We do have a policy in place. Typically we put them in isolation.”

Del Valle described being in jail in Chatham County as very “traumatic” and said she was “put through hell.”

“They didn’t know where to put me,” she said. “The young men there were out of control. They kept beating on my cell. It was pure torture.”

Harris said Del Valle was placed in a booking cell and then an isolation cell and that if Del Valle had complaints they were not voiced while Del Valle was in jail.

“We do take particular caution with inmates such as this,” Harris said. “We’re a nationally accredited jail and have a policy for this.”

Del Valle also disputes that she was exposing her breasts that led to her arrest.

Del Valle, who appeared on an episode of TLC’s “NY Ink,” said she and her cousin were club hopping and hit popular gay club Club One as well as other clubs before stopping in Ellis Square to decide where to go to eat.

She said many people recognized her from the TV show and she was posing for pictures with tourists.

“I was mingling with people. I was just enjoying everyone,” she said. “Then I was sitting down with my cousin and discussing where to go eat. And then it was just kind of blur. They had me on the floor. My heels were off. I was resisting because I was not bothering anyone.

“I was just having good time. They cuffed me. I was screaming. I was petrified. There was no reason behind what they were doing. I was wearing a sheer shirt,” she said.

Del Valle was also charged with disorderly conduct.

“I have a flair for fashion but I don’t think it’s criminal,” Del Valle said.

Kevin Clark, who heads up the LGBT advocacy group Georgia Equality chapter in Savannah, said he is helping Del Valle in seeking a civil rights attorney. He said the police department’s LGBT liaison is on medical leave.

“This was a horrific situation here in Savannah,” Clark said.

Harris said Del Valle is free to file a complaint and it would be investigated by a “robust internal affairs department.”

From the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department report:

While working Off Duty in City Market at the above date and location, I observed a blond-haired white female (Ms.Del Valle) sitting on a bench with her breasts falling out of her shirt; nipples were exposed. Ofc. Menendez and I went to approach Ms. Del Valle but she immediately stood up from the bench and walked away.

I gave a verbal command for Ms. Del Valle to stop but she turned her head towards me and yelled “Fuck You”. I immediately arrested Ms. Del Valle (handcuffs were checked and double-locked). Ms. Del Valle was escorted to the Precinct 2 Prisoner Transport wagon which was located in Franklin Square. Ms. Del Valle’s shirt was extremely tight and low cut in which her breasts kept falling out of her shirt. Ms. Del Valle was asked to sit down in the wagon but she refused to sit in the wagons seat; both breasts were exposed at this point. Ms. Del Valle was extremely upset and non-compliant at this point, Ms. Del Valle kept yelling at officers. A supervisor and a female officer were requested to the scene.

The on-duty supervisor arrived but I could not get a female officer for a pat down. Ms. Del Valle’s breasts were covered with the inside liner of a police jacket and was asked to sit in the back of Ofc. Loughrey’s marked police vehicle. Ms. Del Valle was then transported to CCDC where she was booked and processed.

The 2011 clip of Del Valle from “NY Ink” —

Photo: Ashley Del Valle. (Courtesy photo)

Editor’s Note: This story includes a correction to who paid the bail for Del Valle. The bail was paid by her cousin, mother and uncle and not by members of the LGBT community as originally reported.