In July 2009, Nancy Genovese was taking pictures of a decorative helicopter in front of the Gabreski Airport Air National Guard base in Westhampton Beach, New York, for a “Support Our Troops” website. That’s when her troubles with the law began.
The 58-year-old Long Island mother of three says that the officers who pulled up and arrested her did and said abusive things. As reported by the New York Post, police — apparently suspicious of what Genovese was doing — searched her vehicle and found a legally owned rifle that she was transporting from a nearby gun range.
She contends a deputy sheriff arrived on the scene later and said to her, “I bet you are one of those Tea Party people.”
When Genovese said she’s gone to Tea Party rallies, he allegedly said, “You’re a real right-winger, aren’t you?” and “You are a ‘Teabagger’” and then added that she’d be arrested for terrorism to make an example of other “right wingers.”
The Tea Party mom was charged with criminal trespass and hauled off to jail, where she spent four days locked up before the charges were dropped.
Being out of jail wasn’t good enough for Nancy Genovese. Outraged at the way authorities had treated her — alleging that she was humiliated and physically abused during her time in jail — she sued Suffolk County, its Sheriff’s Office, and other parties.
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And now the federal jury that heard the case has agreed with Genovese that she was the victim of gross misconduct by authorities. She was awarded $1.11 million.
In its story on the jury award, the New York Post quotes the attorney for Nancy Genovese:
“Ms. Genovese was subjected to a level of abuse because [authorities] did not share the same political views as she did and saw this as an excuse to deny her even the most basic civil rights.”
Reportedly, the case is not over. The federal jury’s award of $1.11 million was to compensate Ms. Genovese for her being incarcerated. Punitive damages that she could also be receiving are yet to be determined.
“If this can happen to me, and officers can abuse their power like this, I can only imagine how other people who are not as fortunate as me have been treated,” Ms. Genovese said.
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