Brittany Rowley, a 15-year-old honor student at an all-girl Catholic high school in Brooklyn, says two plainclothes police officers chased her and pushed her to the ground last week, and now her family is suing the city. Officers received descriptions of shoplifters who very loosely matched the description of Rowley and her classmate, (two young black teens, dark hair, one with a ponytail), who were walking to the library. Rowley says the cops trailed her and her friend in an unmarked car before getting out and tackling the girls. “I thought we were being abducted,” Rowley told reporters. Three hours later, the shackled teens were found to be innocent. Rowley says the cops yelled “Get them!” and “Why’d you fucking run? I should punch you.” “It was terrifying, it is the most horrible thing I have ever experienced,” says Rowley.
For their part, Sergeant Jonathan Catanzaro and Officer Stephen Nakao say they said “Excuse me, ladies,” with their badges out.
Unsurprisingly, Rowley’s family is furious, and they have filed a $5.5 million dollar lawsuit against the city and the officers involved. Papers filed cite false arrest and excessive force. Delmus Rowley, Brittany’s father, insisted “I feel my daughter was racially profiled. They had…just a description of a young black lady with braids. It wasn’t necessary to tackle a 15-year-old girl.”
A spokesperson for the NYPD says the officers have nothing to apologize for. Moreover, the officers are to be commended for having looked at the surveillance footage from the store after the store owner wrongly accused Rowley. “But for him viewing the videotape, the young lady would still be in custody,” said Inspector Kim Royster.