BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) – New York City agreed to pay $40,000 to settle the civil rights claims of a mother who went into premature labor after a cop pepper-sprayed her.
Shacassie Nicole Rollins Risher was 8 months pregnant as she attended a family barbecue in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant on Aug. 2, 2008.
Police officers got into a fight with a partygoer at around midnight, and called for backup.
Risher’s said an unidentified officer got out of his patrol car, banged his stick, and shouted, “Everyone get the fuck out of here,” as she sat on a bench.
“In the ensuing fracas, Risher was sprayed with pepper spray and knocked to the ground, stomach-first,” according to a report authorizing the award.
Risher said people told the cop she was pregnant when he was near her, but he did not back off.
“The plaintiff couldn’t move after being pushed to the ground and falling directly on her pregnant stomach. At this juncture, it appeared as if plaintiff’s pregnant stomach had retracted inside of her,” the complaint states.
She was taken to Brooklyn Hospital, where she gave birth to a son the next day.
About a year later, she sued New York City, its police department, and the John Doe cop.
Sgt. Marshall Winston, Officers Eric Grimes, William Dugan, Giovanni Wilson, and Anthony Vassallo were added as defendants in a subsequent complaint.
During discovery, Risher testified that her son stayed in the hospital for six days after his premature birth, and suffered from jaundice and chronic upper respiratory infections early in his life.
In May this year, she said that her son had recovered from any injuries tied to his premature birth; she later agreed to settle her claims rather than go to trial.
Her attorney Edward Zaloba will receive one-third of the settlement money; the rest will be put into an interest-bearing bank account until the boy reaches his 18th birthday on Aug. 3, 2026.
Senior U.S. District Judge Frederic Block entered the settlement in an order filed Thursday.