Pregnant NJ woman was assaulted, called ‘fat bastard’ by cops, lawsuit claims
STATEN ISLAND — A 29-year-old New Jersey woman has filed a lawsuit claiming that New York police assaulted her while she was seven months pregnant, and later called her a "fat bastard" after a traffic stop in Staten Island last March.
On March 31, 2015, the lawsuit states, Sheena Stewart was pulled over while driving to work.
The lawsuit, filed in New York, states that as Stewart attempted to gather her identification and vehicle documents, officers "were speaking rudely to (Stewart) and rushing her." Officer Matthew Castellano, the suit claims, then asked "what the f*** is taking you so long?"
At that point, the lawsuit states, Stewart told the officers “If you are going to continue talking to me like this, I am going to record how you are speaking to me."
Police then told Stewart — who had been wearing her seat belt — that she was under arrest, "and forcefully grabbed" her to pull her from the car, according to the lawsuit. She told the officers she was pregnant, at which point one of the officers removed the seat belt, pulled her from the car and pushed her to the ground "on her pregnant stomach," according to the lawsuit.
In the lawsuit, Stewart says the officers put her into a patrol car and transported her to the 121st Precinct.
"Once at the precinct, the defendant officers again rushed plaintiff as she was getting out of the patrol car with difficulty, called plaintiff a fat bastard, and rushed her and shoved her as she was walking, claiming she was walking too slowly," the lawsuit states, although it's not clear whether it alleges Castellano or the other officer made that remark.
Stewart was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration.
After being placed in a cell, Stewart complained of stomach cramps and back pain and requested medical attention, according to the lawsuit. It claims she was left waiting in the cell for an hour before an ambulance arrived to take her to Richmond University Medical Center for treatment.
She was then returned to the precinct until being released the following day, the lawsuit. She has since given birth to a baby girl, who was not harmed as a result of the incident, according to the NY Daily News.
Stewart is suing the city of New York and the two officers for compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorney's fees related to her arrest and treatment, the suit states.
According to the Daily News, Stewart recently appeared in traffic court in Staten Island to fight three traffic summonses she was also issued during the motor vehicle stop. The article states that the officers were not present in court, and the tickets were dismissed by the judge.
Stewart's lawyer, Brett Klein, could not immediately be reached for comment but told the Daily News “The verbal and physical treatment of this visibly pregnant woman for allegedly moving too slowly to retrieve her documents during a baseless traffic stop is not how we expect our police officers to treat motorists."
Castellano resigned from the NYPD two months after the incident, but his reasons for leaving are not known, the Daily News reported.
Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.
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