Bronx Woman Shackled While Giving Birth Wins $610,000 Settlement

By Sasha Gonzales
sgonzales@bronxjusticenews.com

New York City has agreed to pay $610,000 to a Bronx woman who NYPD officers kept shackled to a bed as she gave birth at Montefiore Medical Center.

Jane Doe, as she is identified in court papers, was taken into police custody at Bronx Family Court in February 2018 for violating an order of protection stemming from a child custody dispute with her ex-partner.

The 27-year-old was more than nine months pregnant when arrested, and due to give birth any time. After a stay in jail, officers brought her to Montefiore and chained her to her hospital bed, using metal handcuffs and leg shackles, court papers allege.

Hospital physicians told them such treatment was illegal—state law bans police shackling or placing of any restraints on a pregnant woman—but the officers said the NYPD Patrol Guide mandated Jane Doe be restrained, and insisted department policy trumped state law, according to the lawsuit filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

“While she was in the NYPD’s custody, Ms. Doe never struggled, resisted, or acted in any way that would even remotely support the use of restraints,” the suit said.

“Ms. Doe was terrified for herself and for her baby.”

Doe gave birth Feb. 8 after almost an hour of painful labor. While doctors had persuaded officers to remove some restraints, the woman’s wrist was still cuffed to the bed when her newborn daughter arrived, the suit alleged.

After the incident, Doe was too humiliated to tell her family what happened.

“I haven’t made sense of it myself and I’m not ready to explain it to my child,” she said in an affidavit filed with the suit.

The NYPD did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement, but did agree to change its Patrol Guide with regard to treatment of pregnant women in custody.

About Sasha Gonzales 73 Articles
Sasha Gonzales is a Contributing Writer for Bronx Justice News and a Kingsbridge resident. A native of the Bronx, Sasha is an academic researcher interested in the study of multi-generational poverty and income disparities. She is also an aspiring fine arts photographer and avid reader.

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