Bronx Defenders announce $125K settlement for Bronx woman who claimed 42nd Precinct officers falsely arrested her

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The Bronx Defenders announced Tuesday that the NYPD agreed to pay $125,000 to their client Cheyenne Lee, who accused nine officers from the 42nd Precinct of unlawfully entering her apartment and falsely arresting her and her teenage cousin. 

“The NYPD had no right to barge into my house, illegally arrest me, and terrorize my family,” Lee said in a statement issued by the Bronx Defenders. 

“We all have the same human rights to be safe and secure in our homes, but police trampled those rights when they broke into my home without a warrant and fabricated reports to justify their abuse and violence against me and my family,” said Lee, who is of Black and Native American ancestry and was born and raised in the Bronx. 

NYPD payouts like the one received by Lee are an alarmingly high expense for the city; the Legal Aid Society reported that NYPD misconduct lawsuits cost the city $121 million in 2022.

And according to City Comptroller Brad Lander, payouts for tort (wrongdoing) claims against the NYPD accounted for 34% of the city’s total overall cost for tort claims in 2022. 

A settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing by the NYPD.

The Bronx Defenders did not offer a comment by press time, and the NYPD Law Department declined to comment for this story. 

Dec. 3, 2021 

According to the complaint, on Dec. 3, 2021, Lee was in the apartment she lived in with her uncle, Pedro Perez, Sr., who cannot read and write, and his son, Pedro Perez, Jr., who has a mental illness. In their shared home, Lee assisted her relatives and handled many household tasks.

On that day, an argument broke out between the uncle and his son, and a neighbor in the building called 911 to report that Perez, Sr. may have been assaulted by his son. The neighbor noted that no weapons were involved and no ambulance was needed. 

Nine officers of the 42nd Precinct responded to the scene. Perez, Sr. insisted that everything was fine, but officers entered the apartment without permission or a warrant, over Lee’s objections, according to the complaint.

Officers demanded to speak with Perez, Jr., and three drew tasers on the teen. After Lee pleaded with officers not to tase or arrest her cousin, they arrested her for obstruction.

While in custody for two days, Lee alleged that she was not given an asthma inhaler and that her arms were sore and bruised from being tightly handcuffed. She ended up handcuffed to a bed at Lincoln Hospital after her blood pressure increased to dangerous levels.

According to the complaint, body camera footage later contradicted the officers’ version of events — yet they continued to prosecute Lee for obstruction. Over several court appearances, they accused her of lying about where Perez, Jr. was and said she tried to physically block officers from making the arrest. 

After appearing in court at least four times — and rejecting pressure from the NYPD to plead guilty — the case against Lee was dismissed in May 2022.

Lasting impact

According to the complaint against the officers, Lee’s treatment by the NYPD was so psychologically and emotionally damaging that it turned her life upside down.

Lee reported that she could not return to the apartment for a long time and that she suffered severe anxiety and lost her income and work as a self-employed stylist for business spaces. 

The complaint alleged 15 counts of violations of federal, state and city law against the nine officers, including retaliatory arrest, illegal search and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

“New Yorkers deserve to live safe and free from violence and abuse, but the NYPD’s actions, along with its disinformation tactics about Ms. Lee’s arrest, show how little they value the rights of Black and brown people,” said Anne Venhuizen, attorney in the Impact Litigation Practice at The Bronx Defenders in a statement. 

Records of misconduct

NYPD information shows that most of the officers named in the Lee lawsuit have a record of misconduct complaints or lawsuits — from before that day, since then or both.

Just three of the nine officers — Praveen Davis, David Perez and Flamur Gashi — have no other record of department discipline, lawsuits or complaints beyond the Lee lawsuit, according to information from the NYPD Member of Service History lookup. 

Lt. Brian Query — who started with the department in 2005 and was the highest-ranking officer responding to the incident at Lee’s apartment — has been named in nine lawsuits throughout his career resulting in $251,000 in settlements. 

Query remains on the job as a lieutenant with Police Service Area 7, which covers NYCHA properties in the 40th and 42nd precincts. 

For Officer Lissa Solermarte, who started in 2019, the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) recommended she face the highest level of department discipline — called “Charges and Specifications” — following a May 2022 incident where they alleged she wrongfully pointed her gun. 

At that level of discipline, if imposed, officers can lose multiple vacation days or even face suspension or termination — but only if the police commissioner agrees. In Solermarte’s case, Commissioner Edward Caban disputed the CCRB’s analysis of the situation and handed down no discipline

This type of outcome is common. The CCRB investigates misconduct complaints and can recommend discipline against officers and prosecute them in NYPD Administrative Prosecution Unit trials — but ultimately, the police commissioner has final say over punishment decisions and research shows that CCRB recommendations are frequently overruled. 

The New York Civil Liberties Union studied over 180,700 misconduct complaints investigated by the CCRB since 2000 and found that in 74% of cases where the CCRB substantiated a complaint and recommended discipline, the department overruled the board’s recommendations and opted for lesser or no discipline. 

For Lee, her traumatic situation was just one of many that has brought lasting harm to New Yorkers — especially people of color.

“My hope is that what happened to me, and my victory, can help every Black and brown New Yorker who has been hurt, abused, or racially discriminated against by law enforcement,” she said.

Reach Emily Swanson at or (646) 717-0015. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes