A protester who the NYPD pulled into an unmarked van at a Black Lives Matter demonstration is now suing the city

Black Lives Matter protesters are arrested by NYPD officers
Black Lives Matter protesters are arrested by NYPD officers on Brooklyn Bridge, Wednesday, July 15, 2020, in New York. AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura

A protester who was shown being thrown into an unmarked police van by plainclothes NYPD officers in a video that went viral last summer is now suing the city, claiming that the officers violated her civil rights.

In the lawsuit filed Sunday in New York County Supreme Court, Stickers O’Neill alleges that police used excessive force and assaulted her while arresting her without a warrant. The lawsuit names the City of New York and ten unnamed NYPD officers as defendants.

The video of 18-year-old O’Neill being thrown into the unmarked van at a July 2020 anti-police brutality protest in the wake of George Floyd’s murder sparked widespread criticism at the time, the lawsuit notes. Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had called O’Neill’s arrest “disturbing,” “frightening,” and “wholly insensitive.”

O’Neill says in the lawsuit that she believed she was being kidnapped because the plainclothes officers that pulled her into the van did not identify themselves as law enforcement.

The lawsuit alleges that police threw O’Neill around the van as it sped away from the scene of the protest, and that they punched and elbowed her while trying to place her in handcuffs. Police did not fasten O’Neill into a seatbelt as the van was moving and told her to stop acting “like an animal,” according to the lawsuit.

“When Plaintiff screamed for help, the Individual Defendants ordered her to stop behaving like ‘an animal,” the lawsuit says.

O’Neill says in the lawsuit that she suffered “extraordinary” emotional pain and suffering, loss of liberty, and physical injuries as a result of the arrest. The lawsuit seeks a jury trial, compensation from the city, and punitive damages against the arresting officers.

O’Neill also alleges that she was defamed by the NYPD because it told the media that she was arrested pursuant to a warrant, when the department knew there was no warrant out for her arrest. Authorities said at the time that O’Neill was wanted for five counts of criminal mischief for damaging police cameras.

The NYPD did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.