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One of the teens, she says, asked to look at her friend's iPhone. The teen returned the phone, and Caitlin placed it in her bag. Her friend emerged from the bar and suggested getting a cab, distracting Caitlin momentarily. When she looked at her bag again, it was empty, and the teens had left.
"It was a huge, open bag," she says. "They must have reached in and took it. I was concentrating on looking for a cab."
Upset, Caitlin tried to get back into the bar to report the theft. The bartender refused to let her in, so she banged on the door. Meanwhile, a passer-by began filming her with his own phone. That made Caitlin irate, and she pushed the passer-by while yelling at him.
Police arrived, apparently called by the bartender. Officers Moreno and Mata pulled up outside the bar in their police cruiser. By then, the passer-by had wandered off. Caitlin says she tried to report to the officers that her stuff had been stolen, but they weren't sympathetic.
"They aren't taking me seriously from the beginning," she tells the Voice during an interview at Junior's Restaurant in Brooklyn. "I'm trying to be reasonable and rational, saying my things were stolen, and they are laughing and giggling, patronizing me. So I get upset. They grab me, push me against the car, handcuff me, and put me in the back seat. They aren't taking my report. They also hit my friend."
While she was in the police car, Caitlin says Mata looked through her bag, took out a sanitary pad, and said, "Is this why you're so cranky?"
"I get pissed," she says. "I opened the car door, and he kicked or pushed me back in the door so hard that my glasses fell off. I asked him to get them, and he said, 'You're a smart girl. Get them for yourself.' "
Later, Mata teased her, "You're not going to India now."
Caitlin said she kicked at the seat and called Mata names, ragging on his salary and his profession. She asked him to identify himself, but he refused, saying, "It's none of your business."
(Courts have ruled over the years that even if a civilian is being obstreperous or abusive, police officers are required to act professionally.)
"It's not like I am an uneducated person," she says. "I was trying to report a crime. I knew I had done nothing wrong."
She says Mata and Moreno drove her a few blocks from the bar, and dropped her off. Worried that she had no money, no phone, and no way to get home, she looked for and found her friend, who was urinating behind a dumpster.
Outside a pizza joint, Caitlin was still very upset. A young couple stopped to ask if she needed help. She asked them for subway fare, but they called the police. Once again, Mata and Moreno arrived at the scene, this time accompanied by other police officers.
Caitlin says she tried once again calmly to report the theft, and told them that she had no way to get home. Mata, she says, threw a dollar on the ground, laughing. Caitlin lost her temper again. She went back into the pizza place and borrowed $2 in quarters to pay for a subway ride home.
"I was trying to reason with him earlier, but I was mad that he threw the money on the floor," she says. "He got pissed, pushed me against the car, knocked my friend down, and handcuffed me really hard. He puts me in the car, and drives to the precinct, saying, 'You're going to love sleeping in jail.' "
Caitlin was held at the 9th Precinct stationhouse for several hours in a cell, where she says she sat in a corner on the floor while the officers searched her tote bag. She was finally released at about 7 a.m. When she looked inside her tote bag, she found a summons for disorderly conduct.
"I finally saw Mata's name plate, and I told him, 'You'll be seeing me again, Officer Mata,' " she says.
The officers never took her crime report, and the alleged theft apparently was never investigated.
When she got home, her grandparents were upset with her because someone kept calling them using her phone. It's then that she learned someone not only used her phone to make calls, but bought gas using her gas card and tried to use her credit card to buy a new phone on the Internet.
Later in the day, Caitlin rode the subway to the CCRB offices at 40 Rector Street, and made her complaint. An investigator, Anna Steel, took photographs of her scratches and bruises.
A copy of the complaint report obtained from Caitlin established that the chronology she described in interviews fit what she told the CCRB.
"[She] attempted to tell Mata and Moreno she had been robbed. The officers did not take her seriously," the report says. "She became upset and began to yell and scream."
She was handcuffed, the report says, and Mata removed a sanitary napkin from her purse and stated, "Is this why you're being so bitchy?"