New York, NY — Stephanie Dorceant and her girlfriend Nandi Allman were on their way home from a concert when their world would be turned upside down.
In the early morning hours of July 11, Dorceant and Allman were cheerfully walking home when a plainclothes man bumped into Dorceant from behind, according to Dorceant. The man in plainclothes was off-duty NYPD officer, Salvator Aquino.
In a statement written for her attorney, Dorceant explains what happened next:
On July 11th I was in Brooklyn, where I live and work, heading from a concert with my girlfriend when, out of nowhere a large man bumped me from behind. I asked him if he was ok. He then barked at me, and I will quote: “mind your own business you fucking dyke.”
Hen then attacked me, punched me in the face a number of times, choked me and called me several more anti-gay slurs. When he had his hands around my neck I truly thought I was going to die. I could not breathe. The only way I could get him to stop attacking me and my girlfriend was to bite him.
When other police officers showed up I thought we were saved. That was not the case. It turned out that this man was an off-duty police officer. Instead of helping me and my girlfriend and arresting our attacker, more officers piled on top of me, slamming me onto the pavement and putting their knees on my neck, shoulders, and back. They then put us both into handcuffs and threw us into a holding cell in the precinct. After being processed at the precinct I was taken to the hospital, and then to central bookings.
At my arraignment, they said that I had assaulted the cop and that I had used racial slurs. Even though I have no record, and their story was a complete lie, bail was set and I ended up at Riker’s Island.
My attacker has still not been charged or arrested.
Even though I am well aware of the many stories about police brutality, especially against blacks, Hispanics, and the LGBT community, I never really thought that this could happen to me. I want to share my story and say that police brutality is a real thing. Hate crimes are a real thing. Both of these things happened to me. Enough is enough.
According to the police version of events, however, Aquino claims the two women were arguing as he was walking to his car. Aquino claims that when he and Dorceant bumped into to each other, this tiny woman began attacking him and “punched him in the face.”
Aquino said that as he was trying to arrest Dorceant, she resisted and “proceeded to bite [Aquino] repeatedly about the arms, chest, finger, and torso, breaking [Aquino’s] skin.”
Dorceant and Allman maintain that Aquino’s version of the story is nothing but lies and maintain that they were cheerfully laughing when they bumped into Aquino.
Both women are small and would have posed no threat to the officer, said Dorceant’s lawyer, Benjamin Zeman.
According to the Huffington Post, during the arraignment in court Saturday, according to Dorceant, prosecutors read aloud a statement from Aquino saying he was concerned he “might have HIV” from her bites. (She has since taken an HIV test; the results were negative, she said Thursday.)
The NYPD says it is now investigating the claims against Aquino to determine if disciplinary action is required. A separate investigation by the civil rights Bureau of the Brooklyn district attorney’s office is also underway to determine if the incident was a possible hate crime.
Dorceant and Allman believe Aquino should “absolutely” be charged with a hate crime.
Attorneys for Dorceant are confident that the felony charges of assault, as well as charges for menacing, resisting arrest, and harassment, will all be dropped. Dorceant is planning civil action against the NYPD as well.
A friend of the couple has started a crowdfunding page to pay for Dorceant’s legal fees. As of Monday, they are half way to the goal of $8,000.