According to Sheriff Weaver, Angela McIllwain was arrested in Sharp County in November of 2006 by former Ash Flat Officer Bobby Woods. McIllwain said she was arrested for disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor charge, and taken to jail. While in jail, McIllwain said she was strip searched by former jailer/matron, Tamara Roberts, while Deputy Gerald Traw and Officer Woods restrained her.
Sheriff Weaver said McIllwain was belligerent which was why the officers had to restrain her. "She (McIllwain) was stopped for suspicion of narcotics," Sheriff Weaver said. "When they searched her, they found meth in her bra." Sheriff Weaver said he thinks she acted the way she did hoping the officers wouldn't find the hidden drugs.
Sharp County Jail Administrator Eric Pickle said after reviewing all of the reports on this incident, he feels procedure was followed. Pickle said in an emergency situation when the jail matron cannot handle the prisoner, other officers may step in to help contain the prisoner for the matron to perform the search.
Sheriff Weaver said he knew nothing about the search before it happened nor did he approve it specifically. "We have to search everyone before they are put in the jail," Sheriff Weaver said. "We cannot put someone in our jail not knowing if they have a knife or something."
McIllwain not only filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Weaver but also against Roberts, Woods, Traw and four others. McIllwain is suing each of these people individually and in their official capacity.
R.T. Starken and Stewart Lambert are both representing McIllwain. The suit filed, said McIllwain has suffered considerable emotional distress, physical aches, pains, injuries and bruising as a result of the incident.
McIllwain has an arrest record in other counties. When she was arrested in Sharp County she was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of an instrument of crime and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Sheriff Weaver said the officers were following procedure and he hopes the case will not go any further.