A Bronx teenager has been awarded $45,000 after she was thrown in jail overnight, along with her friend, for rejecting an NYPD cop’s flirtatious advances.
The teenager also claimed that one of the arresting officers fondled her breasts as she was being frisked.
Natalie Erlich was only 17-years-old when she was approached by New York City police officer José Peinan in 2013, who was in plain clothes.
Erlich was grabbing an after school snack with a friend when Peinan and another officer approached them and began flirting. Peinan was wearing camouflage pants and the teen was wearing a camouflage hat, so Peinan had remarked to the teen that they matched. Erlich laughed and blew him off, as her and her friend headed around the corner to get hot chocolate.
Officer Peinan reportedly followed the girls, asking Erlich where she was going. She informed him she was going home and then followed up by asking if he was a cop.
The officer reportedly told her maybe. The teen told him, “that’s a cop answer.”
Immediately following that interaction, a van with four officers pulled up and Peinan ordered Erlich be handcuffed. When Erlich asked the officer why she was being arrested, he allegedly responded with “You know why — you’re being a smartass.”
Erlich and her friend were held overnight without explanation.
According to the National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project, sexual misconduct is the number two complaint filed against police officers after excessive force. In a study conducted by the group in 2010, they found that 51% of the complaints were filed on behalf of minors.
To date, Officer Peinan has been named in four lawsuits against the city that have all settled out of court. In 2010, the latest numbers available online, he made a salary of $82,789 plus another $43,673 in overtime. He began his career in 1995, meaning he should soon be eligible for retiring.
Along with the settlement, all charges against Erlich were dropped, and Peinan remains on the force, as a liability to the wallets of New York City taxpayers.