A book editor plans to sue the New York Police Department after she stood up to three police officers harassing a cab driver and says she got six hours of physical and verbal abuse in return.
The woman was party to a civil suit against Salt Lake City and County officials in 1980, alleging she had been subjected to an illegal strip search."It was complete abuse of power, insolence of office," Judith Regan said of the officers whom she accused of manhandling, tormenting and sexually harassing her on Friday.
"They were like adolescent juvenile delinquents getting their jollies by intimidating anyone they could. The more I refused to break down, the more angry they got."
Regan, 37, said she was thrown against the cab in which she was riding, arrested and held for hours for defending her cab driver.
Regan had a run-in with law enforcement officials in Utah in 1980 when she was a reporter for the National Enquirer. The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit in March 1980 charging that unconstitutional strip searches were made at the Salt Lake County Jail. The suit sought $100,000 compensatory damages and $1 million each in punitive damages for Regan, then 26, and another plaintiff, identified only as Jane Doe.
Regan said she was taken to the county jail after refusing to sign a citation when a police officer had pulled her car over for an alleged improper left turn.
There was no answer at her attorney's office Friday night.
On Friday, Regan said her cab had been pulled over for having a broken tail light and the cabbie, a foreigner, was frightened.
"I started getting out of the cab and said things like `Why are you doing this to him?' or `Why don't you leave him alone?' "
"I was well-dressed and they wanted to get me for some reason," Regan said. Her "good" address, on Central Park West, brought taunts and derision from her captors, she said.
Regan, who has a medical problem, said she was denied use of a telephone to call her doctor, but a city ambulance staffer was summoned. When he told her that going to a hospital might possibly extend her imprisonment for days, she signed a medical release in expectation of being freed quickly with a summons.
But she was sprung only after managing to reach through the bars unobserved to a wall telephone and alerting a friend, she said.
The charges against her are disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration, which Regan's lawyer, Richard Emery, said carry possible penalties of 90 days in jail and fines.
He said he would file a complaint with the police Civilian Complaint Review Board before Regan's court-appearance date, Oct. 5. They also will institute a federal civil rights suit after the charges against Regan are disposed of, Emery said.
A police spokesman, Lt. Raymond O'Donnell, said that the department would investigate Regan's allegations when her complaint is received.
"All I want to do now is leave New York. I can't take it anymore," the Massachusetts-reared Mrs. Regan said. She has lived in the city on and off since 1975 and has been senior editor at Pocket Books, part of Simon and Schuster.