'But You're Not a Normal Case'
BROOKLYN (CN) - A former art teacher claims in a $6 million federal lawsuit that she was wrongly arrested and falsely accused of "making a terrorist threat" when she vented in the teacher's lounge that "if she had a trench coat and a shotgun, it would be Columbine all over again."
Sabrina Milo says she was just venting to six other teachers when she made the comment in the "safe haven" of the teacher's lounge at Ft. Hamilton High School in March 2011.
Milo claims she "used this figure of speech as a way to express how irritated she was" at her school's principal and vice principal, who she claimed were trying to get her fired.
Milo says she "was known by her co-workers to have a sarcastic sense of humor and would sometimes make edgy comments."
She claims she was just "venting and was not actually making any threats to anyone. No reasonable person would have taken plaintiff's comments literally or seriously."
After making the comments, Milo composed herself and continued her work day. She says that none of the other teachers said anything to her about the statement she made.
The next day, Milo says, she was asked to attend an unscheduled "meeting" in her department supervisor's office. There, she claims, four uniformed NYPD officers slammed the door open, rushed into the office, handcuffed her and carted her off into a police van.
She sued New York City and its police Officer Greg E. Evert. They are the only defendants.
Milo claims the officers refused to tell her why she was under arrest while she was cuffed to a metal pole at the police precinct for four hours.
It was only later that she was told by an officer that she was suspected of "making a terrorist threat, which is a felony sentence that carries 10 years," according to the complaint.
During her 10 hours in custody, Milo - who suffered from hypoglycemia -- says she was denied food and water, and that she was mocked by officers, who asked her, "Why are you being such a crybaby? You're a terrorist."
She says her attorney intervened and she finally was taken to a hospital.
But at the hospital, she says, she was kept in handcuffs and leg shackles for four hours while waiting to be seen.
She says she was then taken back to Central Booking, where she was told she would be taken out the back entrance.
When she asked if this was normal procedure, she said the officer told her, "No, but you're not a normal case."
She says that officer then showed her the front of the New York Post, which featured a picture of her in handcuffs, crying and in distress.
Milo claims that officers showed other inmates the day's newspapers that featured her on their covers, and encouraged the inmates to mock her.
She was arraigned on a charge of making a terrorist threat. She says a judge set bail at $100,000.
She was taken to Rikers Island and held there for several hours before being taken to Elmhurst Psychiatric Hospital, where she was held and examined for another 24 hours.
When she finally got to leave, she says, she and her family and neighbors were harassed by the press, who had camped out in front of her house on Staten Island.
Charges against her were dropped on April 15, 2011.
She seeks $5 million in special and compensatory damages, and $1 million in punitive damages for false arrest and imprisonment, use of excessive force, and for violations of her First Amendment rights.
She is represented by Daniel I. Neveloff.