Image by The Free Thought Project
THE BRONX, NY — A local 31-year-old woman says she suffered a miscarriage while in NYPD custody earlier this year after being pepper-sprayed and shoved against a wall by a pack of police officers in the Bronx.
Norma Reyes — along with Julius Segars, the father of her unborn child, and his 16-year-old cousin Kurt Gorin — filed a civil rights lawsuit against the City of New York and six police officers on Tuesday, alleging the officers “intentionally and willfully” subjected all three of them to “false arrest and excessive force” on May 15, 2017.
Whether the officers will be directly blamed for Reyes’ miscarriage around 10 weeks into her pregnancy “is something that the court will need to sort out,” said the trio’s attorney, Nicholas Mindicino.
However, the attorney said, “we think it was at least a contributing factor.”
City officials have yet to comment on the allegations.
Reyes, Segars and Gorin claim they actually had a run-in with one of the officers — Lt. Raymond Meyer — around a month prior to the night in question, when he pulled over their vehicle in mid-April. After the traffic stop, Reyes filed a complaint against Meyer with the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau, claiming he had been “discourteous,” according to her attorney.
So when Meyer and his partner, Officer Lawrence Sanchez, approached the trio one month later outside an apartment complex at 1314 Seneca Ave., they believe he was already holding a grudge against them, their attorney said.
Here’s what happened next, according to the lawsuit:
Meyer followed 16-year-old Gorin as he tried to walk away — then “overtook him, pushed him against a wall and detained him there.” And when the teen talked back, the lieutenant pulled out a can of pepper spray and threatened him with it.
That’s when Reyes and Segars began filming. Here’s some damning footage from one of their cellphones, provided to Patch by their attorney:
“He’s a minor! Look at him!” Segars can be heard telling cops in the video. And when the lieutenant holds up a can of Mace to the boy’s face, Segars warns his little cousin: “Close your eyes! Close your eyes! Close your eyes, bro!”
As Segars and Reyes tape the encounter, a third officer — identified in the lawsuit as Jose Torres — approaches the scene with a crew of three more cops, all of whom have yet to be identified by name, and try to block the couple from documenting Meyer’s behavior. Meanwhile, the lieutenant instructs his backup cops to “take them all” — aka, detain the other two.
That’s when the video cuts out.
But according to the lawsuit, Meyer ended up pepper-spraying Segars’ teen cousin in the face as he pinned him against the ground. The lieutenant then leapt up and began pepper-spraying Reyes and Segars as well, the lawsuit says.
During the course of the triple arrest, “the officers pushed Ms. Reyes against a wall,” the suit says.
Reyes, Segars and Gorin were then loaded into a police vehicle at the scene.
In the car, the expectant mother noticed she was bleeding. “She alerted the transporting officers that she was pregnant, was bleeding between her legs, and needed immediate medical treatment,” the lawsuit says. But officers allegedly ignored her pleas.
Instead of taking her to a doctor, cops took Reyes and her friends straight to the NYPD’s 41st Precinct station house — where they again deprived the arrestees of sufficient water to wash the burning pepper spray out of their eyes, the lawsuit says.
Eventually, police did call an ambulance for Reyes, the suit says — but it was too late. By that time, her baby was dead.
The Bronx District Attorney never filed any charges against Reyes, Segars or Gorin, according to their lawyer.
Mindicino, the lawyer, said Tuesday that he’ll be “serving the officers shortly” in the case, at which point they’ll have a chance to respond. “Then we begin discovery,” he said.
The NYPD deferred comment on the allegations to the city’s Law Department, which handles all litigation against city entities. “We will not comment on this pending case,” a Law Department spokesman said. “We will review the complaint once we are served.”