Lawsuits Show High Cost of NYPD Abuse in the Bronx

(THE INTERCEPT) September 11, 2020

SHAKEIMA GONZALEZ was tired. Tired of being a victim, tired of being harassed, tired of fearing for her life. She’d had enough. And so, in the fall of 2019, the 33-year-old Bronx resident sued her neighborhood bullies — who happened to be New York City police officers.

A year and a half earlier, on a spring afternoon, she was walking along Morris Avenue in the Fordham area on her way to pick up her son from school. Two narcotics officers suddenly approached, demanding to see her hands. When Gonzalez complied, they cuffed her, frisked her, and put her into a waiting police van. She remembers panicking to the point of hyperventilating because no one would tell her what was happening. Several months pregnant, she was dizzy and dehydrated by the time they unloaded her at the 46th Precinct, but officers ignored her when she pleaded for medical attention. Instead, she was subjected to a full-body cavity search. “I didn’t even know what that was and had to have an officer explain it to me,” she said in an interview this spring.

Hours passed before Gonzalez learned the charges were for possession and sale of a controlled substance — a “handshake” transaction that an undercover officer alleged to have spotted minutes before the arrest occurred. Given that she neither did drugs nor sold them, she was shocked when police sent her to Central Booking, where she would remain for two more days “caged like an animal,” she said. Four months and numerous court appearances later, the criminal case against her was dismissed. “It was terrifying,” she recalled. “I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.”