Woman says she was attacked by misogynistic NYPD officer

Photo by Jason Wagner, via Gothamist.
This is horrible:

Greenpoint resident Chrissie Brodigan says she was riding on the L train between Bedford and First Avenue when her pug, who has health problems, overheated and began vomiting in the tote bag she was carrying him in. As she was leaving the subway station with the dog in her arms, she says a police officer’s attempt to issue her a ticket turned ugly, and when she became upset the cop began saying, “If you’re going to act like a woman I’m going to treat you like a woman.”

Brodigan says the cop went on to punch her in the back, and in the scuffle to handcuff her, he “grabbed my breasts and pinched them.” A witness’s account:

Melissa Randazzo, a speech language pathologist who lives in Williamsburg, witnessed the arrest and tells us, “something about it seemed very wrong. The cop’s tone seemed really inappropriate and he kept saying things like, ‘Are you going to act like a woman?’ She tried to walk away, and then he grabbed her and pushed her against the wall outside the turnstile.”

Luckily both Brodigan and her dog are okay.
A couple of thoughts here. Because the cop who Brodigan identified as her attacker is the NYPD’s lone Hasidic officer, the Gothamist comments section has a bunch of racist comments and negative stereotypes about Hasidic Jews. Can we all please just agree that racism is not a useful response?
Also, Brodigan appears to be pretty plugged-in, and has thankfully been able to draw attention to this incident. I wonder how often this sort of abuse happens, but the woman in question does not have so many resources at her disposal. How many of these incidents do we never hear about?

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  1. Josh Jasper
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    The comment section at Gothamist is a toxic swamp of trolls. You should always expect posters there to exhibit the worst behavior.

  2. preppy
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    just for one example in millions I’m sure, I was sexually harassed on the 5 train 2 months ago. I got the man’s picture on my cell phone, got off the train and showed it to the cops at the Franklin Avenue train station in Brooklyn, and they told me “it’s not assault for him to just touch you” and blew me off, they didn’t let me file a report. Considering the MTA puts up signs saying harassment is illegal and sexual leering is illegal, it was mind blowing to be brushed off, although I am sure I was naive to expect them to care. And of course now I see that a puking dog is grounds for hand-cuffing. But being groped and called a “b*tch” and a “wh*ore” is totally OK and not worth the trouble to deal with at all. MIND BLOWING. Ugh.

  3. Alessa
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    These kinds of incidents always make me question the absolute power cops hold, and the fact that they can say you did anything and completely screw you over. Imagine if she had been on a deserted street corner with no witnesses! He probably would have claimed that she attacked him at some point, and she would have been charged for that without question.
    How many people have actually had this happen to them and weren’t so lucky as to have witnesses around? But would lessening the power and supposed “word” a cop has have a positive effect?

  4. dormouse
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    That there are creeps like this in the world makes me sad.

  5. dormouse
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    That there are creeps like this in the world makes me sad.

  6. kidcharlemagne
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    The cops are saying she is an anti-Semite.
    Sort of sounds like CYA BS that NYPD sometimes pull. Also the it was reported in the NY Post, which is really pro police.

  7. Pencils
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    KidCharlemagne–considering what that Post reported she said, I don’t believe it. The comments are exactly the sort of thing people make up as anti-Semitic comments. While what the cop was quoted to have said by Brodigan and more than one witness does sound plausible to me. It’s not anti-Semitic to say that many Hasidic men have conservative attitudes towards women.
    I hate reading this kind of stuff. I’m the daughter of a retired NYC cop, and the granddaughter of a retired NYC detective. As you can imagine, I grew up with a lot of cops around. Many of them were assholes, but most were good people who tried their best in one of the most difficult jobs in the world.

  8. ladylicious
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    I know most cops are ok, but I do think that whole “fraternal” thing can get in the way of justice sometimes. I think they do stick up for eachother.
    I have had mostly good experiences with cops during traffic stops, but I did have one bad experience. My car had gotten broken into and I was driving home a little fast. I was nervous about driving through a bad neighborhood with a broken window, because normally I would have rolled up the windows and locked my doors in the area where I was driving. A cop pulled me over for “speeding on HIS road”. I was doing about 40 in a 30 zone. He didn’t take any information about the break-in, either. It was in the days before everyone had cell phones, so I had not gotten a chance to report it yet.
    He didn’t give me a speeding ticket, but instead, proceeded to hit on me. I felt obligated to take his card and pretended that I was flattered by his invitation to go out with him. It wasn’t the worst sexual harassment I’ve ever experienced in my life, but it was unsettling. I was still upset about my car getting broken into and there he was trying to score with me. Also, he was the only officer present and it was late at night. There were few cars passing and there was no one walking down the street. If he had tried something, no one would have been there to stop him.
    Unfortunately, I don’t find this woman’s story hard to believe. Even though most cops are probably good people, I think there are definitely cops out there who use their position to get away with harassing women or worse. There are bound to be a few bad apples anywhere, including law enforcement. Some of them are just criminals with a badge.

  9. rustyspoons
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Neither Gothamist comments or the Post are places to go for the most enlightened thinkers in New York, just sayin’.
    I hope she presses charges against this officer and he gets what he deserves.

  10. Posted July 1, 2009 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    this happens all the time… the key is capturing it on your phone or camera and talking about it so we can effectively mobilize for change.
    here is a prime example of a recent event of police brutality:

  11. Posted July 1, 2009 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Ugh that is so frustrating – you did everything right. Seems like the cops and transit authority workers (based on similar stories to yours) need training on what they’re supposed to do when someone reports harassment to them and there needs to be a way to hold them responsible for acting correctly. Ugh. Maybe having more women cops would help? It seems like in every (albeit few) story I’ve heard where someone asked a woman cop for help, they got it.

  12. Posted July 1, 2009 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    As an activist on gender-based street harassment & assault, one thing I always say is to report such incidents to police, particularly if there are witnesses or you got a photo of the perp. Unfortunately while some cops will be helpful others will be indifferent or downright hostile and accusatory. It’s scary to think that a woman out there who’s been harassed (or mugged or assaulted etc) could be turning to this misogynist for help. As I wrote on my blog post about this: it’s quite chilling for women to realize there are men with these attitudes out there who are supposed to be “protecting” us from harassers, but in reality, they are harassers too, just with badges and authority.

  13. Lumix
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    You should have grabbed that police officer in the crotch and asked him if that was assault.
    Unbelievable. I can’t believe people like this are allowed to be public servants.

  14. liz
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    To those of you who are reading this with special empathy for the woman, because you experienced something similar at some point, my heart goes out to you.
    I just felt like I needed to comment on how the officer obviously thinks that women should be treated– hitting and verbally abusing them. That is what makes this an incident of more than just a man in a public position abusing his power. It makes it hate driven.

  15. idiolect
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    The Gothamist comments, particularly on the most recent entry (in which some “source” claims that Brodigan made anti-semitic comments), are pretty appalling. Guaranteed they wouldn’t be all “this is what you get for mouthing off to a cop” if Brodigan were a man. It’s really sort of harrowing to consider how many people really do still think that mouthy women deserve whatever violence comes their way…

  16. Siby
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    This is why I never trust cops. I hear too many of these stories, and although I’m sure they exist, I haven’t met one cop that hasn’t been an asshole to me.

  17. idiolect
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    For what it’s worth, I have met good cops in New York, and have even called them a couple of times with surprisingly good results (one in which they came and managed to break up an assault and by the end of it, the guys were apologizing and shaking hands and no one got arrested. Awesome!) I do think it’s reasonable to be kind of wary of police sometimes, but my hope at least is that we can work towards some kind of situation where the police actually are the good guys and can be trusted for help — which is exactly why it’s important to call out situations like the one here and make it clear to everyone that it is not okay for police to do things like this, nor should it be regarded as just a sad fact of life or something. We can do better.

  18. Sandi
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Hasids are not a race, but rather a fanatical, misogynist branch of Judaism. That’s not a negative stereotype–it is a tenet of their sect. It is not racist to posit a connection between one’s fanatically misogynist religion and one’s tendency towards misogynist assaults.
    (Though, I did only read some of the Gothamist comments, so perhaps I missed those that were racist/anti-Semitic. Certainly not something I consider Gothamist commenters to be above.)

  19. Alessa
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know, the women cops I have encountered seem to be pressured to be more macho than even the men in order to make up for the vagina. But that’s personal experience.
    That could be a whole different conversation – the pressure for female cops to be much more aggressive. Although, it does seem to make some sense. They do have to deter guys that would think “Hey this is just a chick I’ll push her around like I do my wife-sister-girlfriend-friend-sunday night hookup”

  20. JesseR
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    This is a patently offensive and anti-semitic comment. The fact that you have to justify it by announcing that its “not racist” only heightens the fact that you actually realize its offensiveness.

  21. RoseRose
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Hasids are also not monolithic. There’s at least a dozen different groups, of varying levels of fanaticism and misogyny. And of the ones who are most likely to be in the NYPD (the Lubavitcher, or Chabad Hasids), while they are somewhat misogynist, they’re of the putting women on a pedestal, and of having “men’s” and “women’s” spheres. Also, I have no idea why he was shoving her… adults are not allowed to touch unrelated adults of the opposite gender according to the rules. By her story, the officer is NOT following his religion in any way, in my opinion, as a not as religious Jew.
    Of course, I can’t make a really educated statement without knowing which Hasidic branch he was from. NYC has the most, and the most different groups, of anywhere in the U.S., surpassed only by Israel.

  22. Fair and Balanced Reporting?
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    If you include one eyewitness account why not also include this eyewitness account?
    But a witness, Viane Delgado, said Brodigan was the one out of line. Delgado said Witriol “repeatedly” asked the woman to place the barking pug in a carrier she had. But instead, she allegedly insulted him with anti-Semitic slurs and tried to walk away. “You f—ing Jew, you’re not even human,” Delgado quoted Brodigan as saying. She repeatedly said, “Jewish people think they own everything,” a source said.
    Seems a little interesting that a bunch of crazy feminists would automatically support a woman who was, in fact, breaking the law. What happened after her breaking of the law will come out in the wash, but she is not above the law and personally, I don’t want some guy bringing his pitbull on the train and saying, “Well, if that Williamsburg hipster idiot can do it, so can I.”

  23. Fair and Balanced Reporting?
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    I can’t wait until all you women who are calling cops assholes NEED a cop to save your ass from the miscreants who troll this city looking for assholes just like you.

  24. JesseR
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    If she was taking her dog, who has health problems, to the vet, then had she left the dog at home to get sicker and possibly die, that would also be against certain animal rights laws. So which is worse in your opinion: Animal abuse, or having a dog on a subway for a few minutes?
    A small sick pug on a subway, and a violent pit bull, are different animals and pose totally different problems (if any at all), and its quite silly to equate the two.

  25. Lynne C.
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    You don’t have to wait. It’s already happened time and time again. Why do you think they’re being called assholes? A criminal is a criminal, badge or no badge.

  26. Siby
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    So you’re saying that if someone is breaking the law, that they should be assaulted? I don’t believe that cops should be allowed to break the law just because other people are doing it, sounds kind of dumb to me.

  27. ghostorchid
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    This is unrelated, of course, but should anyone at Feministing encounter a troll, we can hit “report abuse”.

  28. Ruby
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    Haha. That’s cute.
    But, what could you expect from a poster that gets their moniker from Faux News?

  29. darby
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Well I certainly don’t think that the woman is above the law. We have conflicting statements, so I don’t know what to make of this.
    But YOU are crazy if you don’t understand why a “bunch of crazy feminists” are alarmed by what the police officer allegedly told this woman.

  30. Fair and Balanced Reporting?
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    So, without being there and taking one eyewitness statement as fact and ignoring another eyewitness statement you are ready to label this PO a criminal? All I’m asking is that everyone on here stop jumping to conclusions. I’m not trying to argue who is right or wrong, but rather that this entire blog has seemingly attacked the NYPD based on one side of a story.

  31. Fair and Balanced Reporting?
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    Again, you’ve labeled this PO before all the facts are out. Why is there no comment on this woman breaking the law for which she was stopped in the first place?

  32. Fair and Balanced Reporting?
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    JesseR, you obviously have no grasp of the law.
    In NYC you are not allowed to have ANY animal on a NYC transit vehicle outside of a carrier. If a cop looks the other way for a pug and then goes after a guy with a pitbull there will be all kinds of marches lead by our good Reverend Al Sharpton. The law is the law and it has to be enforced or else society crumbles. You can’t pick and choose how to enforce laws because if you do it opens up all types of challenges in court. Please, stop being so naive.

  33. Fair and Balanced Reporting?
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    No, what I am saying is that everyone on here has decided to play judge, jury and executioner of this cop without having a clue as to what really happened. Any of the judgements I have made are as to whether or not the woman broke the law (she did; the dog was out of the carrier) not whether or not she or the cop was right in the end.

  34. Fair and Balanced Reporting?
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    The key word in your reply is ALLEGEDLY. Everyone here has convicted this cop based on one eyewitness statement included with the story this website published WITHOUT the other eyewitness statement that ALLEGES something else. Is it possible that the woman in this story could be wrong or is that she is automatically in the right BECAUSE she is a woman?

  35. Fair and Balanced Reporting?
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Ruby, my moniker is a joke.
    The right wing thinks they report things in a fair and balanced way and the left wing thinks the same, yet they both lie to get THEIR point of view across. Why is it that this story didn’t include the other eyewitness statement that had the woman in the wrong? I think it’s because it didn’t support the feminist point of view.

  36. Fair and Balanced Reporting?
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    I guess I’m the troll you want to silence for differing from your point of view. Thank you. All I’m saying is I find it interesting that people here have already figured out the PO was the one at fault.

  37. Fair and Balanced Reporting?
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    I guess I’m the troll you want to silence for differing from your point of view. Thank you. All I’m saying is I find it interesting that people here have already figured out the PO was the one at fault.

  38. Jrant
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    It is totally possible to point out flaws in an argument w/o personally insulting the other party.
    How about this:
    “Have any of you considered the woman may have been more combative/violent/etc than the original news source is letting on?” “Have any of you considered the lack of corroborating evidence or eye witnesses?”
    See, those kinds of questions encourage dialogue. You HAVE made one or two actual arguments, but you are pretty liberal with the insults:
    “Probably because YOU are an asshole….You’re probably the typical asshole who feels what YOU do isn’t really breaking the law even when it is because you have a sense of entitlement….What part of Williamsburg do you live in anyway?”
    Believe or not, that shit does NOT encourage dialogue. If you want an open and honest exchange of ideas, bring it. If you want to call names and then complain that we want to “silence [you] for differing from your point of view” then go find someplace else to be obnoxious.

  39. p0w3rful
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Is Fair and Balanced Reporting? considered a troll? At what point are people banned?

  40. Sandi
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    “This is a patently offensive and anti-semitic comment. The fact that you have to justify it by announcing that its “not racist” only heightens the fact that you actually realize its offensiveness.”
    I realize that my sentiment is offensive to Hasids, but that doesn’t make it racist or anti-Semitic. They are not a race. They are a religious sect. I wasn’t trying to “justify” my comment, I was taking issue with Ann’s idea that anyone who links the cop’s religion to his actions is being racist.

  41. Jrant
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    I think that’s a good question. I don’t like the idea of banning people just because they are unpleasant (eg I don’t “you crazy feminists” is sufficient reason to ban someone.) I think you need to be an EXTRA kind of unpleasant, but I’m not sure what that line is exactly.
    Part of me wonders if FaBR? is actually linked to the story, if not the officer in question, then maybe a friend or acquaintance. Has anyone seen FaBR? contribute to anything other than this story?

  42. Sandi
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    You’re right, Hasidim are not monolithic. And it is weird that he touched her, though I’ve heard of such things before. (I dimly remember a story out of Israel a couple years back in which Hasids were forcibly removing women from buses for refusing to go sit separately or maybe for not being dressed properly? What is the word of god, I guess, when women are getting uppity!)
    However, women-on-pedestal/gendered-spheres misogyny is still on the continuum of misogyny which I think totally informs more violent misogyny. I’m not saying that his assault on the woman was an attempt at enacting his religious doctrine. I’m saying that a misogynistic religion breeds a misogynistic worldview which breeds, well, this. Which is obviously not to say that any Hasid would have behaved this way or that any non-Hasid would not have. This is as true of fundie Christians, for example. And it has nothing to do with race or the Jewish ethnicity that you and I both share with [most] Hasidim.

  43. Sandi
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    You know, even if she DID make the thoroughly objectionable, anti-Semitic statements that the other witness alleges, this does not excuse assaulting her. There are no witnesses denying that the assault took place.

  44. llevinso
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    No, I’ve never seen FaBR? comment before. And their comments should be deleted (regardless if s/he is banned or not) because as it says in the comment policy personal attacks are not allowed. And I’m pretty sure calling someone an “asshole” and all of us “crazy feminists” and “you assholes” counts as personal attacks.

  45. Fair and Balanced Reporting?
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Thank you for the excellent belly laugh I just had.
    pow3rful: I am considered a troll when I live under a bridge.
    Jrant: I am NOT the officer involved, nor I do have any connection other than reading the article and Googling the name Chrissie Brodigan. Hence the reason I have never commented before. After reading the comments here where everyone seems to be convicting the PO without knowing ANYTHING other than what this site has posted is pretty fascist of all of you, no?
    llevinso: I do agree that my comments should be deleted. I mean when someone claims they’re treated like an “asshole” and then I agree with them, there is really something wrong with that. From the content of this website it seems to me the readers/commenters would skew to the ‘liberal’ side of the political spectrum, but it’s nice to see that Freedom of Speech is good for you, but not for me. You’re just as hypocritical as the Republican politicians who run on a ‘Family Values’ platform and then get caught tapping their foot in a mens room or flying to Argentina to hook up with their mistress. I love the hypocrisy on both the right AND left.

  46. Fair and Balanced Reporting?
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    This is from the NY Post… personally, I think the paper is a place for right wing nutjobs, but I’m also thinking this website is made for hypocritical liberal nutjobs. Notice, Commish Kelly says there is “no indication she {Brodigan} was manhandled” but that there will also be a CCRB probe. How many of you will be back on here retracting your previous comments if the complaint is unfounded?
    And, while one picture does not tell a complete story, from the picture included with this article who’s body language seems to be more aggressive in nature? Please comment. Please, I beg you.
    Police Commissioner Ray Kelly came to the defense yesterday of a Hasidic cop accused of abusing a female straphanger he arrested for having an unleashed dog in the subway.
    But Kelly did say her allegation will be probed by the Civilian Compliant Review Board.
    “[There is] no indication that she was [manhandled],” he said of Brooklyn blogger Chrissie Brodigan.
    “She made an allegation that she was abused in some way, and that’s an appropriate issue for the Civilian Complaint Review Board to handle.”
    Brodigan got into a confrontation with Officer Joel Witriol, the city’s first Hasidic cop, when she refused to put her pug in a travel container Monday.
    Witnesses say she hurled anti-Semitic remarks at the yarmulke-wearing officer when he wanted to give her a summons.

  47. Jrant
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    According to an update from Gothamist, several witnesses have corroborated Brodigan’s statement that the arresting officer said, “Do you wanna talk like a woman? Do you wanna get knocked around like a woman?” As far as I can tell, no other witness (including the NYPD) has backed up Delgado’s claim that Brodigan, “hurled anti-Semitic remarks.” In fact, one witness emphatically stated “That absolutely did not happen. I did not hear any comments like that at all.”
    In terms of the image and who looks more aggressive, Brodigan has been cuffed and her dog is being taken away and she is visibly upset. Is getting upset the smart way to respond to a police officer? No, of course not. But I totally disagree that the image suggests Brodigan became violent and abusive. And if you want to talk images consider the pictures of the bruises on Brodigans arms. I study Krav Maga with several people in the military and law enforcement. There are plenty of places people can bruise when you are restraining them or taking them down, _the inside of the arm is not one of them._ Pinching the inside of the arm is something a bully does, not an officer in the middle of cuffing or restraining a suspect.

  48. Ann
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Sorry all, just tuning in and seeing some of the comments left overnight and early this morning. I’ve deleted the name-calling posts.
    As ghostorchid says, the “Report Abuse” button in the lower right corner is the best way to get the editors’ attention if someone is starting shit in comments. You can also help us out by not responding to trolling comments — makes them easier to delete later without creating confusion in the thread.
    Apologies again for being late on this.

  49. llevinso
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    The “report abuse” button never works for me. All it ever does is pop up a Microsoft Outlook window and I don’t use Microsoft Outlook.

  50. mobull
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    One of a million is right! We don’t take sexual harassment or assault seriously in this country. At 18, I was riding a public bus through a less-savory part of town. A man in his 20′s got on, and sat down next to a teenage girl a few seats behind me. He put his arm around her, and started asking how old she was (16), and offered her $20 for a blow job. He finally gave up on her, and came and sat down next to me to try again. He started with the same questions, and I started yelling at him, telling him not to touch me, to stop harassing me, and that it was illegal to proposition any woman, let alone underage teens for sex. I complained to the driver, and asked the driver to ask the man to get off the bus. He instead told me that yelling was unlady-like and if I didn’t shut up, he would kick me off the bus. Being in a part of town that was unsafe to walk alone in, and where other buslines I knew did not pick up passengers, I shut my mouth until I could get off the bus and call the transit authority to complain. Of course, I never received a response.
    Since then, through many other instances of sexual harassment and even assault (groping, etc) on public transit, I have learned that police and transit authorities are more likely to become hostile to women making the complaints than the perp. Unfortunately, women have to turn to a bit of vigilantism and awareness-raising through our social networks. In this, Brodigan is a great example for publicizing this type of harassment and misogyny. Her case is not unique, but her response is a positive example.

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