OWS protesters sue NYPD over pepper spraying
Three Occupy Wall Street protesters sued the NYPD and the city Tuesday, saying cops were "out of control" when they pepper-sprayed them in September, calling the reaction "gratuitous, unlawful force," considering they weren't arrested.
In the lawsuits, alleged victims Damien Crisp, Julie Lawler and Kelly Hanlin describe the pain they felt after being unexpectedly hit with the spray on Sept. 24. They ask for undisclosed monetary damages, including lawyers' fees, and changes to the NYPD's policies for using force against protesters.
Lawler and Crisp said they were sprayed by Inspector Anthony Bologna even though they were already being contained by netting and posed no threat to police or others.
Crisp, 34, said she felt "a searing, burning sensation in and around her eyes and face, like a hot iron, causing her to drop to he ground," according to the lawsuit.
Hanlin, 33, said she was targeted because she was photographing an unidentified police officer with her cellphone as he stepped on a protester's back while placing cuffs on him.
None of the three were arrested or charged, according to the suit.
"The NYPD has gotten increasingly brutal as far as its policing of Occupy Wall Street protests," Mark Taylor, a lawyer for the protesters, told amNewYork Tuesday. He said officers often use "fear and intimidation to keep people off the street, keeping them from expressing themselves."
"Police should have to explain why they assaulted someone and then didn't arrest them," he added.
In an email, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne defended the officers, saying, "The NYPD accommodated lawful protests, made arrests when laws were broken, and showed restraint in doing so."
The city's law department had not received the documents as of last night, according to a spokeswoman.
Photos and videos of officers manhandling and pepper-spraying protesters, just days after they began camping out in Zuccotti Park, brought national press attention to the movement and led to an increased number of participants in demonstrations for weeks and months afterward.