Dog Owner Accuses New York’s First Hasidic Police Officer of Abuse and Sexism

180px-RTLP2006_07_hasidiccopIn 2006, Joel Witriol broke barriers in becoming New York’s first Hasidic cop — a proud moment for both Witriol and the Hasidic community. He is now, however, embroiled in a controversy over whether he was abusive in the treatment of Chrissie Brodigan and her pug dog in a New York subway station.

Brodigan says that she was riding the L train when her pug got sick in the tote bag in which he was being carried. She claims that, as she left the station, she took out the dog only to be stopped by Witriol, who said that he was going to issue her a ticket for having a dog outside of its container in the subway. She claims that Witriol was abusive and said things like “If you’re going to act like a woman I’m going to treat you like a woman.” She further charged that “[h]e punched me in the back (there are bruises), he handcuffed me, and in the scuffle grabbed my breasts and pinched them.” Other witnesses have come forward to support parts of Brodigan’s account, including Melissa Randazzo who said, “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.”

Eventually 20 officers appears and arrested Brodigan while dispersing the crowd. She says that she was left handcuffed in the cell where she was hit and spit on by two women in the cell who did not like her crying. She also says that she was denied a call to a lawyer.

The New York City Transit rules include the following:

Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (2) of this subdivision, no person may bring any animal on or into any conveyance or facility unless enclosed in a container and carried in a manner which would not annoy other passengers.

Frankly, Witriol’s fame may have worked against him here. He was heralded as New York’s ‘Kosher Cop” and graced the cover of the Post under the headline “NYPD JEW.” There are many who view traditions in the Hasidic community to be sexist. The existence of supporting witnesses makes this case stronger for Brodigan. It is not clear why a ticket was warranted (let alone an arrest) if the tote bag clearly showed that the dog had thrown up. It would have been cruel to keep an animal in such conditions. Moreover, it is not clear why (even if Brodigan was verbally upset), that an arrest was appropriate in this circumstance. Brodigan also claims that officers told her that her dog was going to be sent to the pound to be put down — if true, a clearly abusive statement for any officer:

They took my pug and he told me he was taking him to the pound where he would be “put down.” I was taken to the J stop headquarters. I wasn’t allowed to call a lawyer and I was put in a cell with handcuffs on with two other women who spit on me and hit me in the head, because they weren’t in handcuffs and I was crying so much it bothered them. I was given 3 tickets: failure to produce ID, disorderly conduct, and failure to have dog in a container. I have a court date in August. I asked for a pen to write the badge numbers down before I left and they refused to give me a pen and covered up their badges. My pug was returned. They had him behind their desks and were playing with him.”

Some witnesses have said that it was Brodigan who was out of line and used such anti-Semitic statements as “You f—ing Jew, you’re not even human and “Jewish people think they own everything.” For those charges, click here.

Obviously, we need to hear from Witriol, but there is obviously a good basis for investigation into the incident.

For the story and pictures, click here.

3 thoughts on “Dog Owner Accuses New York’s First Hasidic Police Officer of Abuse and Sexism”

  1. Nox,
    That is a very sad story. I’m sorry that happened to you.

    In this case, it intuitively seems that police should be held to a higher standard for verbal abuse than those who are being arrested and are perhaps more startled, frightened, defensive, etc.

  2. Unfortunately certain personality types (dominant/abusive) are attracted to authoritative careers such as police work, regardless of their heritage/religion, etc. Not all, but I have to honestly say that most cops I’ve dealt with were just plain bullies. It makes me take notice and appreciate the good ones (like my uncle, who’s a retired NYC police lieutenant).

    I was a victim of police brutality when I was an infant.

    My father was almost beaten to death by police. At the hospital they said he had a 10% chance of living. Someone started to read him his last rights, which he refused. They had to remove his spleen. He pulled through against the odds.

    This was on an especially hot Easter in NYC, in 1976, and there were race riots (or something like that) going on. My mother, my sister, and I (in my baby carriage) were in the park when the riots started and the police were telling everyone to leave. My dad was just outside the park talking with friends and he was concerned about us, so he started towards us. The cops told him to stop, but he didn’t, nor would any parent who’s paternal instincts to protect their children kicked in.

    So this great offense against the great might, power, and authority of these pigs was a good enough reason for them to severely and savagely beat my father near death, trampling my sister down, and knocking my carriage over causing me to fall out onto the ground. They also attacked my mother and a paramedic who was trying to get my dad into the ambulance. (I have no idea what the time-frame was, as I don’t remember anything about it since I was just a baby, but apparently it went on long enough for an ambulance to arrive, if it was not there already because of the riots).

    We sued the cops, and as the case was going on, there was always a police vehicle outside of our apartment to intimidate us. We moved out of NYC out of fear, and when we settled we were able to move away permanently, but we had such a huge family there and I missed out growing up with them. I and my sister were awarded $667 each and my mom & dad got a more substantial amount… I don’t remember exactly, but it was less than $100,000.

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