Leslie Rosario and Jessamine Roman have filed suit against the Ridgefield Park Police Department, claiming that an officer assaulted Rosario when she refused to hand over her cell phone at a DWI checkpoint. The Record reports that Rosario filmed the stop as the car's driver, Juan Calle, was being administered a sobriety test:
Rosario's attorney, David Chazen, said in an order to show cause that Rosario took out her Blackberry phone and began recording the incident before Ridgefield Park Police Capt. John DiNiro told her to stop.
When Rosario refused and continued to record, DiNiro reached into the car and tried to grab the phone, Chazen said.
Rosario wrested the phone from DiNiro and threw it to Roman, who was sitting in the back of the car, Chazen said.
An enraged DiNiro then opened the car door, yanked Rosario out of the car and forced her onto the ground before handcuffing her with help from another officer, Chazen said.
Other officers ordered Roman out of her car and told her to raise her hands, Chazen said. When Roman hesitated and explained that raising her hands would cause her breasts to be exposed, the officers arrested her, Chazen said.
The two were taken to police headquarters and placed in a holding cell for several hours. They were charged with resisting arrest and obstruction.
Richard Blender, the attorney for Roman said in court papers that the officers "not only refused to remove the handcuffs while [Rosario and Roman] were incarcerated, but at one point they re-entered the cell and made the handcuffs tighter."
DiNiro says that the light from Rosario's BlackBerry was a distraction, and that she scratched him when he tried to steal her phone.
The two woman have requested that the Ridgefield Park PD release video from the police car camera and the jail. According to a representative for the police department, there's no video to release, as neither Ridgefield cop cars nor the jail have video cameras. As is the case with most of these arrests, the women initially broke no law. And while fighting back probably crosses a legal line, it's also the case that if DiNiro hadn't been wearing a badge, we'd call what he did to Rosario "assault and battery."
Reason.tv on the war on cameras: