Linda Dominguez says officers kept her shackled–in pink handcuffs–for hours, all while referring to her using masculine pronouns.
The New York Police Department will pay $300,000 and enact training reforms to settle a lawsuit filed by a transgender woman who says she was humiliated by officers while walking home from a Bronx bus station.
The New York Daily News reports that the civil rights lawsuit was lodged by Linda Dominguez in April 2018. Officers made contact with Dominguez near Claremont Park, where they accused her of entering the property after hours.
Dominguez says she was arrested and restrained with pink handcuffs, then taken to a detention center near Yankee Stadium in New York City’s Bronx borough. Once she was behind bars, Dominguez claimed she was mocked for hours on end.
Eventually, New York police officials charged her with impersonation, saying she had lied about her gender identity.
Dominguez told the Daily News she was pleased with the lawsuit’s outcome and hopes it will ensure nobody else has to endure the indignity of her experience.
“I never want anyone to go through the abuse I experienced from people sworn to protect me,” Dominguez said in a statement, which was circulated by attorneys with the New York Civil Liberties Union.
“This settlement is an important step toward ending a culture of impunity and discrimination against trans people in the NYPD,” she said. “As an advocate for my community, I couldn’t let this go.”
Dominguez, recall her attorneys, speaks limited English. When she approached by officers in Claremont Park, she could not understand everything they were saying.
After she was pressed to show her identification, Dominguez showed two different IDs—one showing her legal name, and another bearing the one she had given up.
“In the park, the conversation was fine, even friendly,” Dominguez said in a January 2019 interview. “But then once I asked them if I was going to be arrested, and they said ‘yes’ and put pink handcuffs on me and brought me to the precinct, my hell began.”
Once she was taken to the station, Dominguez availed a translator and explained that she was transgender—and that is why she had two separate IDs.
But that did not seem to make any difference to Bronx officers, who kept her handcuffed for hours, even after placing her in a holding cell. Facility staff also repeatedly referred to Dominguez using male pronouns.
They did not tell her that she was being charged with impersonation until two days past her intake date.
The Associated Press notes that Dominguez was eventually charged with trespassing and impersonation; prosecutors dropped all the charges against her several months later.
Along with paying Dominguez $300,000, the New York Police Department will have to provide its officers enhanced training on transgender rights.