Officer Sues Metro-North And Stamford Over Detention

A black New York City police officer has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Stamford and the Metro-North Railroad, saying that she was stopped, questioned and detained by Stamford and Metro-North police officers because of her race.

In the lawsuit, filed late last month in Federal District Court in Hartford, the New York officer, Rita Fleming, charged that she was illegally detained by three white officers in Stamford on Dec. 27 after being told that she matched the description of a robbery suspect.

Andrew McDonald, Stamford’s director of legal affairs, said Officer Fleming was treated like any other suspect, and that she had filed the lawsuit out of anger that she was not shown ”special consideration because of her position as a police officer.”

According to her complaint, Officer Fleming was at the Stamford train station planning to return to New York City about 4 p.m. when she was approached by Officer Richard Dabrowski of the Stamford police, who demanded to see her identification.

Officer Fleming, who was off duty, had just dropped off her three children to visit her sister. The complaint said Officer Dabrowski and Sgt. Larry Brown, who arrived at the scene, refused to return Officer Fleming’s identification.

Instead, the complaint said, she was taken to a Metro-North police substation and held for more than an hour, even though the local officers had confirmed that she was not the suspect they had sought.

Officer Fleming’s lawyer, Colleen M. Meenan, said her client was singled out because of her race. ”If this woman had been white, this never would have happened to her,” Ms. Meenan said. ”Because she would have shown identification, and it would have been, ‘O.K., have a nice day.’ ”

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