A 15-year-old Harlem student claims she was roughed up, handcuffed, and detained by aggressive cops who mistakenly thought she was too old to be using a student MetroCard. “They called me liar,” Alexis Sumpter told the News of the July 26 incident. “Then they grabbed me by my arms and flung me up the stairs. I kept saying, ‘I’m only 15—why are you guys doing this?’ They said they didn’t owe me an explanation.”
Sumpter, who attends Harlem Village Academies, was on her way to her first day at a marketing internship on Canal Street when two plainclothes cops spotted her using her student MetroCard at the 125th Street Station. “They didn’t approach me in a calm manner and they were very rude the whole time,” she said. “They were talking to me like they were trying to show they were superior to me.” The DOE confirmed the card is valid until Aug. 17.
The cops demanded to know how old she was, but didn’t believe her when she said she was 15—she told them she didn’t have ID because she had recently been mugged for her iPhone and wallet. She says a third cop joined them, and pressed her face to a wall while the other two cuffed her. Cops called her father, who vouched that she was 15; still not believing her, they called her mother, who rushed over with her daughter’s birth certificate. Alexis was held in custody for 90 minutes altogether, and wasn’t arrested or given a summons; but she did go to the hospital because the handcuffs caused swelling on her wrists.
Alexis says she avoids that train now: “I don’t want to see them again,” she said. “I don’t want to have to go through that again.” The whole situation sounds eerily similar to the frivolous arrest of a 21-year-old female student who was held by NYPD for 36 hours for not carrying ID in Riverside Park—Sumpter’s situation also calls to mind the Charleston-dancing couple who claims they spent 23 hours in custody for dancing while waiting for the subway.