Chloe Sowers: Arrested, hospitalized and drugged for sitting “tipsy”

Chloe Sowers, left, says she was mistreated by the NYPD and hospital employees. On the right, Sowers shows her bruises from the night of Dec. 8, 2011.

In a lawsuit filed against the city this week, a Staten Island woman claims she was handcuffed, hospitalized and sedated against her will for the “crime” of sitting on the ground while waiting for the Staten Island Ferry.

Web developer Chloe Sowers, 37, says she spent the evening of Dec. 8 at a party thrown by Absolut Vodka, imbibing four martinis before heading home to Staten Island. When she arrived at the Staten Island Ferry terminal, there were no seats available so she sat on the ground to wait, she says. She was drinking coconut water on the floor when she says Officer McKeon approached her and asked if she was OK, the complaint alleges.

“He was polite and I thanked him for checking on me,” Sowers said. “When he stopped me from boarding the ferry, that’s when I became miffed.”

Sowers says McKeon then called EMS. She was arrested, handcuffed, tied up on a gurney and taken by ambulance to New York Downtown Hospital. At the hospital, Sowers says she tried to untie herself from her restraints, prompting a hospital employee to remark, “Hey, it looks like we got a Houdini here.”

“It was cold and uncomfortable,” Sowers said, recalling her nightmare to Metro. “My mouth was very dry, and when they held me down to tie me up, they took my shoes off and made fun of me with comments like ‘Ewww, stinky feet.”

Hospital staff then allegedly put Sowers in a straight jacket and sedated her with an antipsychotic.

When she woke up from the drug, Sowers says she was no longer restrained. “The nurse asked if I needed to go to the restroom, which I replied yes, and she said to come to the front desk to fill out some paperwork” Sowers said. “I walked down the hall and headed straight for an exit.”
No charges were filed against her, but the hospital allegedly sent her a bill for their services.

Gregory Antollino, Sowers’ attorney, is seeking unspecified compensation from the city and the hospital for the variety of abuses Sowers says she suffered. Among them are false arrest and imprisonment, excessive use of force, assault and battery.

“The story is simple: She was tipsy and she didn’t need police help,” Antollino said.

City Law Department spokesperson Kate O’Brien Ahlers rebuffed Antollino’s claims.

“It appears from the complaint that the police acted responsibly to assist an inebriated woman,” Ahlers said.

For more local news, follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyAEpstein.


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