A transgender woman arrested for cutting across a city park after hours and then slapped with a “false personation” charge after giving police both her legal name and her name at birth has reached a settlement with the NYPD, her attorneys at the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project announced on November 10.
The woman, Linda Dominguez, exited a city bus near Claremont Park in the Bronx late one evening in April 2018 and, along with other individuals, cut across the park to reach her home. When the group was stopped by police for being in the park after its official closing time, Dominguez was the only one arrested.
Mocked after giving both her legal and birth name, Bronx woman will get $30,000; police pledge better training
When taken to the 44th precinct, Dominguez gave officers both her legal name and the name she was given at birth, but in addition to a criminal trespassing charge she was also charged with “false personation” — a statutory offense aimed at people who misrepresent their identity to law enforcement officials. She specifically explained to police that she had legally changed her name because she is a transgender woman.
In a YouTube video about the lawsuit that the NYCLU and ACLU filed on her behalf in 2019, Dominguez described the mocking and harassment she suffered while in custody.
“The policewoman looked at me as if there was something wrong with me,” she said. “They mocked me. ‘That’s a man, that’s not a man, what’s that?’”
The humiliation, Dominguez said, devastated her.
“I went through so much trauma being arrested in this way,” she recalled. “It really was a very horrible experience. I was about to take my own life. People who aren’t as strong may take their life if they experience this too. I decided to do this lawsuit so they don’t keep doing this.”
Under the terms of the settlement of Dominguez’s lawsuit, the NYPD has agreed to redistribute the guidance developed in 2012 on police interactions with transgender and gender nonconforming people to the entire department and to re-train officers in the 44th precinct.
The department will also make a $30,000 payment to Dominguez.
Her 2019 lawsuit named Officer Megan Francis and two unidentified male officers along with the NYPD and the City of New York in connection with Dominguez’s treatment.
A spokesperson for the NYCLU said that beyond the training required of 44th precinct officers, the group is unaware of any additional disciplinary or corrective action taken against individual officers.
The NYPD did not immediately respond to a question about what action it may have taken regarding the officers responsible at the 44th precinct.
The lawsuit cited a 2017 report from the city’s Department of Investigation that found there were “clear gaps in the NYPD’s implementation” of the 2012 patrol guide revisions and that only six of the department’s 77 precincts had at that point received training. Training, the report found, was largely limited to new recruits and to newly promoted sergeants, lieutenants, and captains.
In a written statement, Dominguez, who is an active with Make the Road New York regarding the rights of trans and gender nonconforming immigrants of color, said, “I never want anyone to go through the abuse I experienced from people sworn to protect me. This settlement is an important step toward ending a culture of impunity and discrimination against trans people in the NYPD. As an advocate for my community, I couldn’t let this go.”
Donna Lieberman, the NYCLU’s executive director, said, “Harassment of transgender women of color is far too frequent in the NYPD. As the national reckoning with police abuse and violence continues, this settlement makes clear that the NYPD has an obligation to treat transgender women with dignity. We will continue to hold the NYPD accountable.”
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