Woman shackled by police while in labor settles with New York City

An African American woman who says her wrists and ankles were shackled by police for hours while she was in active labor at a hospital has settled with the City of New York and its police department.a close up of a person wearing a hat

The woman was arrested two days past her due date in late 2018 on a misdemeanor assault charge that was later dismissed and sealed, her attorneys told CNN. She went into labor the day of her arrest, according to a lawsuit.

She filed the suit against the city of New York and several New York Police Department officers anonymously in October, seeking damages for emotional distress, a violation of her civil rights, punitive damages, attorney fees and costs. In court Wednesday, a US district magistrate judge for the Eastern District of New York approved a $750,000 settlement for the woman and her baby. The settlement stipulates it is not an admission by the defendants that they violated the woman’s rights.

The young mother of two told CNN she ended up being forced to give birth handcuffed to a hospital bed with only a nurse holding her hand. She said she was not taken to the hospital where she’d planned to give birth, but instead, to a hospital in a different part of the city, without the presence of the baby’s father, her family or the physician she’d been receiving prenatal care from.

The woman spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity. “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 told CNN. “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 was arrested early on December 17, 2018, at her home for a misdemeanor assault that allegedly happened the week before, according to the lawsuit. Her attorneys told CNN she did not, at any time, resist arrest or present a flight risk. The charge was later dismissed, according to her attorneys Anne Oredeko, supervising attorney of the racial justice unit at The Legal Aid Society, and Katherine Rosenfeld.

“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,” Oredeko told CNN. “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.”

NYPD declined to comment on the settlement. The New York City Law Department did not respond to requests for comment. The young mother was 40 weeks and two days pregnant when she was arrested, according to the suit.

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