NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A Brooklyn woman has filed a civil lawsuit claiming she was attacked by a Department of Transportation employee and then wrongfully arrested.
Ruth Cunningham-Morris, 58, said she was out for a routine walk with her dog last April when the worker began berating her after she had walked away to grab a trash bag from a nearby receptacle to clean up her dog’s mess.
Cunningham-Morris said she walked back and cleaned up the excrement, but then lost her temper after the worker continued to verbally abuse her.
Cunningham-Morris said she threw the bag of dog excrement at the DOT worker’s truck and then he became physically violent.
“He went berserk,” Cunningham-Morris told 1010 WINS. “He followed me across the street, he punched me in the back of my head, and he choked me down to the street from behind. At the same time, he was pulling my clothes off of me.”
“He nearly choked me to death,” she added.
Cunningham-Morris said a retired corrections officer witnessed the incident and got out of her car to help.
The witness told police she saw the worker attack Cunningham-Morris, but despite the witness’ statement, Cunningham-Morris was arrested at the scene.
“I’m certain that is because I’m African-American,” Cunningham-Morris said. “They were very biased against me, they didn’t allow me to receive medical treatment when the ambulance came.”
She claims officers took her to a nearby precinct and chained her by her hands and feet in chair for six hours next to her alleged attacker.
Since the alleged attack, criminal charges against her have been dismissed, but Cunningham-Morris said the legal system has failed to provide justice and let the worker off with a “slap on the wrist.”
He was offered an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, meaning the case will be dropped if he behaves for a period of 6 months to a year.
“They have done everything possible to minimalize this suit and to minimalize this guy’s actions so that they could dismiss the case against him and he could go back to his job,” Cunningham-Morris said. “This guy had no right to put his hands on me and he’s getting away with it.”
The New York City Law Department issued a statement saying, “We have this case, however there’s not much we can say on it due to pending litigation.”