Yorkie Dog Subject of NYPD Lawsuit Alleging Civil Rights Violations

Yorkie Dog Subject of NYPD Lawsuit Alleging Civil Rights Violations

A New York Legal Aid Society Attorney sued the NYPD for false arrest and traumatizing her dog after filming police officers[i] on May 2, 2023. She has asserted civil rights violations against the City of New York and two NYPD Officers in Supreme Court, Kings County. Specifically, plaintiff alleges the defendants violated her Constitutional rights through 42 USC § 1983 through false arrest and imprisonment, retaliatory arrest, and unreasonable seizure. Plaintiff also filed a Monell claim against the City of New York, based upon the City’s “overlapping customs and practices,” which the officers were engaged in with the full knowledge, consent, and cooperation of the NYPD[ii].



On May 3, 2020, plaintiff, a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society’s Law Reform and Special Litigation Unit, was walking her 9-year-old Yorkie in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. During her walk, she observed NYPD officers remove a young man from a bodega and bring him around the corner, where other young men were detained and lined up against a wall while being questioned by the NYPD.[iii]

The plaintiff alleges that upon her observation of the questioning by the NYPD, she began filming the interaction while yelling to the young men and advising them of their Constitutional rights. Eventually, plaintiff claims the police officers began pushing her away from the scene. When she asked one of the officers for his business card, plaintiff was handcuffed. Despite plaintiff’s co-workers also being on the scene, plaintiff alleges the police officers would not allow her co-workers to take her dog. Instead, the police officers “seized” the dog and took plaintiff to the 79th precinct where she was placed in a holding cell for eight hours.[iv] Her phone was confiscated and never returned. The officers also refused to tell plaintiff where her dog was being held; the plaintiff asserts she only learned after her release that her dog was placed in a kennel. Plaintiff further alleges her dog was traumatized by the incident and now requires anxiety medication. Plaintiff was given a desk appearance ticket for obstruction of government administration, but the charges were later dismissed[v].

The plaintiff’s complaint includes multiple photos of the dog in question, and she has stated that because the NYPD officers allegedly let the Yorkie dog out of the kennel and into a breakroom with officers, she is now on the hunt for “…a small dog version” of Xanax.[vi]


What’s Next?

The City of New York and the individual police officers have yet to answer the Complaint. Interestingly, plaintiff chose to file her civil rights claim in state court. It is possible, given the federal civil rights claims, the defendants may seek to remove the case to federal court.

Under 28 USC § 1446, a notice of removal must be filed within 30 days after receipt of the lawsuit by a defendant. Pursuant to 28 USC § 1441(a), a case may be removed from state court to a federal district court if the district court has original jurisdiction. 28 USC § 1331 states, “[t]he district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” In a case where removal is premised upon 28 USC § 1441(a), all defendants must consent to the removal. Thus, in this case, the City of New York and the two individual police officers would have to consent to the removal to District Court. Removal to federal court is sometimes a strategic decision employed by defendants to position the matter in a more favorable courtroom. Such a tactic may well be employed here. Regardless of which court ultimately presides over the matter, the alleged effects of the event on the subject Yorkie will form at least a portion of the court’s analysis.




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[i] https://www.law360.com/articles/1603515/nypd-sued-after-arresting-attorney-and-her-little-dog-too

[ii] Griffard v. The City of New York et al., Sup. Ct. Kings Co., Index No. 512993/23

[iii] Id.

[iv] Id.

[v] Id.

[vi] https://www.law360.com/articles/1603515/nypd-sued-after-arresting-attorney-and-her-little-dog-too