In 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.