Cops Handcuffed A New York Woman While She Was In Labor, Lawsuit States

December 8, 2018  |  

Glimpse at the interior of an old jail.

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A recent lawsuit points to a startling practice enforced by the NYPD, after a woman said she was forced to give birth while she was shackled.

The woman, who asked to be listed as “Jane Doe” in the suit recounts her horrific experience, which began on February 8 while she was in a holding cell, The New York Times reports. The suit was filed on Thursday in the Federal District Court in Manhattan.

Doe says the experience left her humiliated and traumatized, leaving her without the vocabulary to recount the experience with any of her close family members.

“I haven’t made sense of it myself and I’m not ready to explain it to my child,” she said in a sworn statement.

According to the suit, doctors at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx informed officers that the action was against the law and included adverse health risks, but officers said the department’s guide required her to be cuffed, overruling state law. Doe’s lawyers argue the restraints went against a 2015 state law that bans the practice on pregnant women or during delivery, while also including eight-week recovery period post pregnancy.

Doe, who was 27-years-old at the time, said she suffered for almost an hour before officers loosened some of the cuffs. Doe was restrained by her hands and ankles, the suit states. Doe delivered her baby with her right hand still restrained. She was finally unshackled nine hours after labor, only after she was arraigned in her hospital bed for violating a restraining order.

The suit hopes to reverse the department’s policies, calling shackling of women in labor “dehumanizing” and “cruel.” Doe and her legal team are also pursuing damages, arguing that her civil rights were violated.

Doe’s case is the second public filed against the NYPD in regards to shackling. In 2015 a woman said she was handcuffed to a hospital bed by three days at Montefiore Medical Center while she was eight months pregnant in premature labor. As a result, her charges were formally dropped, according to the report by DNAinfo.

“The fact that pregnant women and women in labor would be subject to the most draconian treatment imaginable, particularly when they stand accused of a misdemeanor, speaks volumes about the macho culture of police departments and corrections,” Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, told the Times.

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