She alleged later in a lawsuit that on the way to retrieve her license from her car, she was violently assaulted by four male officers — pushed to the ground, kicked, grabbed by her throat and lifted to her feet, and repeatedly thrown against the trunk of her car. Cardile claimed that what happened was unprovoked. Officers took her to a holding cell, and after she requested medical care, according to her lawsuit, the police took her to a Yonkers hospital several hours later. There, she was treated for a fractured hand and injuries to her arm and shoulder.
"The uniform makes them feel like 'we can do what we want, and you sit there and shut up,'" says Cardile, who was 37 at the time of the incident.
In her federal civil rights lawsuit, filed two years after the incident, Cardile alleged that the officers used unreasonable and excessive force. The city of Yonkers denied wrongdoing — but settled with Cardile for $50,000. Civil suits like this are often the only recourse citizens have for holding police officers accountable, and for some people the only way to obtain any sense of justice.
Yonkers is a small city just north of New York City. The Yonkers Police Department does not look like the community it serves. Yonkers is 19% Black and 40% Latino. But the police force of about 600 officers is nearly 75% white, according to the department.
NPR obtained records of payouts by the city of Yonkers for incidents of alleged police misconduct that took place between 2007 and 2020. When the city of Yonkers settled cases, it was made clear that the city and the officers involved in the lawsuits denied any wrongdoing.
Photographed for NPR, with words by Tracy Brannstrom.
Alleged police misconduct cost Yonkers, N.Y., millions. The complaints kept coming
An NPR investigation examined records of payouts by the city and found troubling patterns: Plaintiffs alleged that police often used excessive force. And several officers were repeatedly named.