The city of New York on Wednesday agreed to pay $750,000 as settlement to an African-American mother after she filed a lawsuit accusing NYPD officers of shackling her wrists and ankles while she was in labor in 2018.
According to CNN, the unidentified woman filed the suit against the city of New York as well as a host of officers with the New York Police Department. The suit alleges the African-American mother was taken into custody on a misdemeanor charge on the day she gave birth – which was two days after her due date.
Though the city agreed to pay the settlement to the woman and her baby, court documents reportedly state it does not mean the defendants in the suit have admitted the woman’s rights were violated.
Speaking to the news outlet, the woman said she was handcuffed to a hospital bed while she was in labor. She also alleged officers did not transport her to the hospital she was supposed to give birth, but rather to a different facility in the city. In effect, she said she wasn’t attended to by the physician who handled her prenatal care and she also couldn’t have her family as well as the baby’s father by her side while in labor.
“That was not my birth plan. I felt like a failure to my unborn because that wasn’t something that was planned for neither of us,” she said. “I just didn’t feel like myself anymore after that. I feel like my memory got taken away. And still I’m in pain.”
The woman’s attorneys also told CNN their client did not resist attempts to take her into custody during her December 2018 arrest and did not pose any flight risk. They also said the NYPD later dropped the misdemeanor charge and sealed the case.
“The first breath that this baby had on this earth was one born out of violence. That was violence, what the NYPD did to her,” attorney Anne Oredeko said. “This lawsuit was meant as a way to give her some type of solace, but there’s no repairing that — money will never repair that. And she cannot get that moment back.”
The suit accused the arresting officers of knowing very well the plaintiff was heavily pregnant but still went ahead and took her into custody though “there was no urgent need to arrest (her) that day.” She also told CNN she had started feeling contractions two days prior to her arrest. While in custody, she said the contractions persisted for hours and she was only assisted by another female inmate. She said the precinct staff were attending a holiday party during that period.
“It was a lady next to me in the next cell. She was talking to me the whole time, she was hearing me in pain. She kept timing it for me,” she recalled. “But everybody was at a Christmas party and nobody was to be found — to the point of where I basically got attention (only) on the next shift. That really made me feel like they didn’t care.”
She was eventually taken to a hospital and handcuffed to the bed despite a nurse requesting her to be freed. The suit alleges an officer claimed an unspecified policy prevented him from removing the shackles. He, however, eventually removed them after “nurses informed him that (she) needed to begin pushing and that the handcuffs were preventing her from receiving an epidural.”
“My only support was the nurse that was helping me,” the woman told CNN. “Nobody — not my family, not my friends — just complete strangers.”
This isn’t the first the NYPD has reportedly forced a woman to give birth while handcuffed. A woman similarly filed a lawsuit alleging she was restrained to her hospital bed while giving birth in February 2018. The city also reached a $610,000 settlement with her and agreed to review and amend the NYPD Patrol Guide.