New York City has agreed to pay $610,000 to a woman they kept handcuffed and shackled whilst in labor.
The woman, identified as ‘Jane Doe’, was 40 weeks pregnant at the time of her arrest for violating an order of protection that was part of a child custody dispute with her former partner.
According to the complaint, she was taken from jail to New York’s Montefiore Medical Center the next morning with metal cuffs on her wrists and heavy shackles on her feet, binding her legs together at the ankles. Shackling pregnant women in police custody or prison was banned in New York State starting in 2009. The policy was updated in 2015 to include the use of any restraints on pregnant women. At the hospital, doctors appealed to the officers to remove the restraints, saying they could endanger the woman and her child, the complaint said. When doctors appealed to a police supervisor, they were told that shackling was NYPD policy, according to the complaint. “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 complaint said. “Ms. Doe was terrified for herself and for her baby.” After repeated protests from her doctors, the officers removed the shackles minutes before she gave birth, the complaint said. They shackled her again shortly after she delivered her baby. She had to feed her new daughter with one arm and she remained in shackles until she was arraigned in her hospital bed hours later.
The lawsuit accused the NYPD and the officers of assault, unlawful use of restraints, and violations of her constitutional rights.