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Lawsuit: Cops Pepper-Sprayed Woman, Children In Brooklyn Subway Stop

Scales of Justice (file / credit: clipart.com)

Scales of Justice (file / credit: clipart.com)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Bronx woman has alleged in a lawsuit that NYPD officers pepper sprayed her, and injured her three children in doing so, for allegedly entering a subway station without paying.

The lawsuit was filed last week in U.S. District Court by Marilyn Taylor and DeHaven McClain Sr. McClain is the father of the children, but lives separately, the lawsuit said.

The City of New York, the NYPD, and three specific officers were named as defendants.

Around noon on Aug. 9, 2012, Taylor and McClain entered the Atlantic Avenue subway station in downtown Brooklyn with their children, ages 4, 2 and 5 months, the lawsuit said. McClain was carrying the youngest child attached to his chest, while Taylor was pushing the 2-year-old girl in her stroller and holding the 4-year-old girl’s hand, the suit said.

The officers stopped the couple and demanded to see Taylor’s identification, claiming that she had gone through the service entrance with the stroller and had failed to pay a fare, the lawsuit said.

The officers used “aggressive language” that scared the children, and the 4-year-old asked her mother if they would be OK, the lawsuit said.

When Taylor responded by leaning over and telling her daughter that “everything is going to be OK,” one of the officers pepper-sprayed Taylor in the face, the lawsuit said.

Taylor reeled backwards and almost fell off the platform before dropping to her knees, the lawsuit said. McClain was also struck by the pepper spray and suffered pain to his eye, the suit said.

The pepper spray also struck all of the children, who screamed and cried, the suit said. The 2-year-old girl also began vomiting uncontrollably, the suit said.

The officers then handcuffed and arrested Taylor “as the minor children cried in fear and pain,” the suit said. The lawsuit claimed the officers were “unreasonably forceful” in arresting her, and that they left McClain to get the “screaming and crying children” home.

Taylor was taken to the area police station, but the charges against her were ultimately dropped, the lawsuit said.

The suit claimed Taylor, McClain and the children have suffered ongoing injuries to their eyes that have required medical treatment. The suit also claimed the officers have continued to give the family a hard time, and they can no longer use the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center stop.

Further, the suit alleged, the children “are now afraid to ride the subways and become afraid when they see police officers. The 4-year-old cried herself to sleep for weeks, and after the incident, the 2-year-old began waking up in the night and crying for her mother.”

The lawsuit did not claim that the officers pepper-sprayed the children, or anyone other than Taylor, deliberately.

The lawsuit sought unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

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