Woman alleges assault by Long Island sheriff, files $1 million lawsuit

Kristin Thorne Image
Wednesday, January 8, 2020

FREEPORT, Long Island (WABC) -- A Freeport woman alleges she was struck in the face by a Nassau County sheriff who was serving papers at her home, and she has now filed a notice of claim against the Sheriff's Department, Nassau County and others for $1 million for her injuries and violation of her civil rights.

Felita Dobbins, 46, said two sheriff deputies came to her home on Lena Avenue on on December 30 to serve civil papers to one of her daughters who resides with her.

Dobbins showed Eyewitness News video from her Ring doorbell, which shows a sheriff throw the papers onto the front steps. The officer starts to walk away but then turns back and picks up the papers and knocks on the door.

Dobbins answers the door and begins yelling at the officers to leave her property. Dobbins admitted she cursed at the officers and called the officer, "white caveman."

"I said some nasty words I shouldn't have said, you know, my emotions got over me," Dobbins told Eyewitness News reporter Kristin Thorne.

Dobbins said she suffers from several mental illnesses.

The officer throws the papers at Dobbins and walks away, and on the Ring video, you can hear Dobbins continuing to hurl names and insults at the officers as they walk off her property. They come back seconds later, and one of the officers lunges at Dobbins' front door.

Dobbins said the officer hit her in the face, though the video does not show the officer strike her. She is standing behind the Ring camera at the time.

"He came back with his hand and hit me with the silver cuffs on the side of my face," she said. "And then he tried to hold the door with the other hand."

Dobbins shared pictures with Eyewitness News that show injuries to the right side of the face. She said she went to the hospital.

"We feel criminal charges should be pressed based upon the video," Dobbins' attorney Ken Mollins said.

Mollins said he has written a letter to the Nassau County District Attorney calling for a criminal investigation.

A spokesperson for the Nassau County DA said the office learned of the allegations Monday and will review them.

Michael Golio, with the Nassau County Sheriff's Department, said the matter is under investigation.

The names of the officers have not been released.

"I've called and my client has called to get the names of the two sheriffs who were involved, and we can't get it," Mollins said.

Dobbins also intends to sue the Freeport Police Department. She said right after the incident, she called Freeport police, who responded to her house. She said officers did not take a statement from her.

'We believe the Freeport police are looking to protect this deputy sheriff, who clearly, based on the video, acted improperly, acted illegally," Mollins said.

Howard Colton, the attorney for the Village of Freeport, dismissed the claims.

"While it is policy to not comment on pending litigation, we believe this action is absolutely frivolous and will be vehemently defended by the Village of Freeport," he said.

Dobbins settled a lawsuit against the Village of Freeport Police Department several years ago after a judge ruled officers wrongly arrested her for violating a family court order of protection. Dobbins declined to discuss how much money she was given as part of the settlement. A source told Eyewitness News it was for $7,500.


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