NYPD officers pepper-sprayed three small children because they thought the kids' mom jumped a subway fare, the family claims in court.
Marilyn Taylor sued New York City, the NYPD and three officers in Federal Court, for herself, her three children and their father, according to Courthouse News Service.
Taylor claims in the suit that her family was preparing to board a train on Aug. 9. She was pushing her 2-year-old in a stroller and holding her 4-year-old's hand. Father Dehaven McClain carried the 5-month-old close to his chest.
When officers stopped her on suspicion of skipping the fare, Taylor says she was pepper-sprayed, 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 she was then pushed down the stairs roughly enough to cause bruising.
A day later, Taylor says, she was arraigned and received an adjournment in contemplation of a dismissal, meaning the charges would be thrown out if she did not get arrested again within a certain time.
The complaint goes on to say the pepper spray attack caused lasting damage.
"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."
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 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.