As they were investigating a 2009 drunk-driving accident that killed 20-year-old Jessica Mejia, Cook County Sheriff's Officers stripped off all her clothes except for her underpants, placed her partially naked body on a tarp, and then took photos—all while in the view of onlookers and other emergency responders. Next week, reports the Chicago Tribune, her mother will have her chance in court to argue the sheriff's department acted inappropriately. As the Washington Post puts it, the family is "essentially accusing the deputies of taking creep shots of their dead daughter." The nude photos helped spread the false perception that her daughter died because she was having sex with the driver, says mother Christina Mejia. "The rumors and the allegations ... they made it believable."
The sheriff’s office denies these allegations, but there have been some stumbles in its response to the lawsuit. When the suit was filed in 2010, a spokesperson flatly denied that officers took the nude photos. Since then, however, the department has admitted to taking the photos, but insists it was standard procedure: "The family suffered an unimaginable loss, and the crime scene photos were taken as our officers investigated this crime and were instrumental in securing a conviction against the person responsible for this tragic death." (Mejia's ex-boyfriend pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 56 months in prison.) The trial over the photos starts Monday.