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Head of police mentor program sues Suffolk County police

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Suffolk County Police Department
Dashcam footage of the incident that prompted Cindy O'Pharrow to sue the Suffolk County Police Department, in which she was forcibly removed from an ambulance.

The president of a Long Island police mentor program has filed a $60-million lawsuit against Suffolk County, alleging she was the target of excessive force and racial discrimination.

The lawsuit stems from a shooting last summer, when Cindy O’Pharrow was forcibly removed from an ambulance taking the shooting victim to the hospital. O’Pharrow, who’s African American, runs Cops N’ Kids, a nonprofit that attempts to foster better relationships between police and youth. She said she was fulfilling a request of the victim’s family to stay with them.

Police launched an internal investigation after the incident.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the initial findings of the investigation suggest that O’Pharrow’s statements are false and that policy prohibits civilians from riding in ambulances.

O’Pharrow’s lawsuit claims that it was because of her race that she was treated as she was, and that this is a systematic problem in Suffolk County.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.