NYC woman gets $750,000 settlement after NYPD shackled her while she was in labor

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Pregnant woman

LONDON – JULY 18: In this photo illustration a pregnant woman is seen (Photo illustration by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — A woman who was shackled to a gurney by NYPD officers while she was in labor reached a $750,000 settlement with the city, her lawyers announced Thursday.

The 22-year-old woman, who sued under the name Jane Doe, was more than 40 weeks pregnant and asleep in her mother’s home when NYPD officers took her into custody on a minor charge, according to the Legal Aid Society. She was transported between Brooklyn and Manhattan and kept in various holding cells for almost a day before she was taken to the hospital: handcuffed and in active labor.

The mother stayed in restraints for the next day at the insistence of NYPD officers, according to the Legal Aid Society. With an arm handcuffed to the bed, she struggled to feed her newborn son. She was only allowed to visit her son in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with her legs shackled together.

The charges against her were later dismissed.

Mayor Bill de Blasio described what happened as “inhumane” and said he didn’t ever want to see something like that happen again.

“I will check on whether the patrol guide either was at the time or since has been amended to make clear that’s unacceptable,” he said. “I think in terms of any discipline issues, I got to get briefed on what happened, but also what the patrol guide to do because of an officer’s following the patrol guide and the patrol guide is wrong, it’s not the officer’s fault, it’s the larger decisions that were made.”

The current NYPD Patrol Guide states:

“When a uniformed member of the service believes a prisoner is pregnant, the uniformed member of the service will initially rear cuff the prisoner, absent exceptional circumstances (e.g., medical emergencies, visibly pregnant prisoner who may be difficult to rear cuff and who poses no immediate threat, etc.), and notify their immediate supervisor. The immediate supervisor will then determine if a less restrictive method of restraint is appropriate and tactically sound. Less restrictive methods may include front handcuffing, or handcuffing one hand to a stationary post. If less restrictive methods are not appropriate, the immediate supervisor may determine that a more appropriate method of restraint is warranted.”

The woman in the lawsuit was taken into custody before revisions were made to the Patrol Guide, according to the city Law Department.

“The NYPD’s Patrol Guide was revised in early 2020, and NYPD training was subsequently enhanced, with input from the parties in this case,” a spokeswoman said.

Shackling pregnant people is dehumanizing, Anne Oredeko, supervising attorney of the Racial Justice Unit at The Legal Aid Society, said.

“All New Yorkers should be appalled that the NYPD continues to fail people giving birth at one of the most important and vulnerable moments in their lives, and I am outraged at how this practice consistently targets out Black and Latinx women and people who give birth for treatment no one deserves,” Oredeko said. “While we know that this settlement will not completely right the injustice that our client suffered, we hope that it will provide some sense of closure, allowing her and her son to move on with their lives.”

The city previously agreed to pay $610,000 to another woman who was forced to give birth in handcuffs.

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