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Woman Sues Ventura County Alleging Deputies Pulled Hijab Off Her Head

VENTURA (CBSLA)  -- A Newbury Park woman is suing Ventura County after she said sheriff's deputies ripped a hijab off her head.

Jennifer Hyatt says she was humiliated and felt naked during the incident.

CBS2's Amy Johnson says deputies said everything that is done inside the jail is for the protection of the inmates and the security of the facility.

Moreover, they said they said procedures are in place to make sure things are done properly and appropriately.

"I have the right to be a covered Muslim woman," Hyatt said, "even in jail."

Hyatt, 44, was taken into custody after a domestic situation. She says her rights were violated during the incident in January 2017.

"My hijab was yanked off my head in front of many men," Hyatt said, "despite my continued requests to wear it.  I felt naked, humiliated and ashamed during my entire duration of my custody."

She said she explained to the deputies that she could not have her head uncovered as a Muslim woman.

Hyatt says ,"I was told by a deputy. 'Not in here, you're not.' "

The Newbury Park resident and her attorneys have filed a federal lawsuit against the Ventura County Sheriff's Department. She's seeking damages for violation of her civil rights.

Hyatt says she's also looking to see that this experience never happens to anyone else.

"The constitution of the United States guarantees everyone the freedom to practice his or her religion without persecution ... and under protection from law enforcement officers. The same officers who failed to protect my rights," Hyatt said.

In a statement, Sheriff's Department spokesman Sgt. Eric Buschow said:

"She was treated with dignity and respect at the jail and out in the field for the initial call. There are policies in place that focus on the safety and well-being of inmates as well as their religious rights."

Deputies said Hyatt was held for four hours and that all their interactions -- with her in the field and in the jail -- were recorded by officer's body cameras as well as security cameras inside the jail.

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