Mom Says NYPD Pepper-Sprayed Baby (Courthouse News Service)
Tuesday April 2nd, 2013
BROOKLYN (CN) - NYPD officers pepper-sprayed three little children, including 2-year- and 5-month old babies, because they thought the kids' mom jumped a subway fare, the family claims in court.
Marilyn Taylor sued New York City, the NYPD and Officers Maripily Clase, Suranjit Dey and Jermaine Hodge in Federal Court, for herself, her three children and their father.
Taylor claims that she and her kids were preparing to board a Manhattan-bound L train on Aug. 9. She was pushing her 2-year-old in a stroller and holding her 4-year-old's hand. The father, Dehaven McClain, carried the 5-month-old close to his chest.
The officers stopped her on suspicion of skipping a fare because they saw her pushing the stroller through a service entrance rather than the turnstile, Taylor says in the complaint.
"The aggressiveness of the officers' demeanors had upset the four-year-old daughter, and her mother bent down to console her and tell her, 'everything will be OK," the complaint states.
But everything was not OK. Taylor says Officer Dey pepper-sprayed her, causing her to fall to her knees and nearly fall from the platform. She says the spray hit every member of the family.
"The pepper-spray caused the children to scream out and choked the two-year old, who went into fits of vomiting," the complaint states.
"Ms. Taylor was then placed in handcuffs as the minor children cried in fear and pain."
Taylor claims that Officers Hodge and Dey then pushed her down the stairs so roughly that the pressure against her handcuffs bruised her wrists and lower back.
"Mr. McClain was left to try to get the minor children, screaming and crying, safely home by himself," the complaint states.
A day later, Taylor says, she was arraigned and received an adjournment in contemplation of a dismissal, meaning the charges would be tossed if she did not get arrested again within a certain time.
She says she and the children needed medical attention because of the lingering effects of the spray.
"After the attack, mother and father suffered ongoing eye injuries and all three children suffer emotional harms, and are now afraid to ride the subways and become afraid when they see police officers. The four year-old cried herself to sleep for weeks, and after the incident the two-year-old began waking up in the night crying for her mother," the complaint states.
Taylor claims that the officers have continued to harass her family.
"Since the incident, plaintiffs have suffered repeated harassment from the officer defendants, forcing them to avoid the MTA through the Atlantic Avenue stop," the complaint states.
The family seeks punitive damages for civil rights violations, assault, battery, negligence, and violations to the state and federal constitutions.
They are represented by David Rankin of Rankin & Taylor, PLLC.
The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.