The New York Police Department (NYPD) allegedly roughed up 15-year-old honor student Brittany Rowley in a case of mistaken identity, the New York Daily News reports.
Brittany and her friend were in the same location where two teens fitting their description–two female black teens, dark hair, one had a ponytail–were caught on camera stealing from a clothing store in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope on Friday.
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Brittany says she and her friend were walking down a busy avenue when two men–who were actually plainclothes police officers–allegedly said “get them.” (The Daily News reports the cops as saying, “Excuse me ladies,” with their badges out)
The officers were Sgt. Jonathan Catanzaro and Officer Stephen Nakao of the 78th Precinct.
Brittany says she and her friend did not know the two men were cops and felt that they were being set up to be kidnapped. The 15-year-old teen says she and her friend both ran, but the cop caught her. Brittany claims that the cop slammed her to the ground and threw his keys at her.
Here is what Brittany says happened next and the poor justification the NYPD gave for the cops behavior:
Catanzaro tackled Rowley and threw her to the ground. He threw his keys, she said, hitting her leg. She recalled him saying, “Why did you f—— run? I should punch you.”
She claims Catanzaro yanked her up, whipsawing her neck. She says police also snapped on cuffs, causing bruises. Her friend returned and was collared too.
An NYPD official insists the incident was good police work, noting that Catanzaro obtained surveillance tape from the clothing boutique that exonerated Rowley, even after the store manager identified her as the suspect.