Justice

Kamilah Brock: Sent to a Mental Hospital For Asking For Her BMW Back

September 14th 2015

By:
Kyle Jaeger

Kamilah Brock, a 32-year-old Black woman who was sent to a mental hospital for eight days for reasons allegedly related to the type of car she was driving after a New York City police officer pulled her over, gave her first on-camera interview last week.

During her time at the Harlem psychiatric ward, where Brock was held against her will, she was forcibly injected with powerful sedatives and administered lithium, according to medical records obtained by local television station Pix 11.


Brock says that she was pulled over and questioned by a NYPD officer on September 12, 2014, for having her hands up as she was waiting at a stop light. Though she explained that she was dancing to music, the officer asked Brock to step out of her 2003 BMW and transported her to NYPD's 30th Precinct, where she was not booked, or charged, but detained for several hours nevertheless, only to be released later that day. She was told to return the following morning to pick up her car.

Instead of returning to the 30th Precinct the next day, Brock went to a police substation in Harlem. She argues that when she arrived to the substation she was treated with suspicion when she requested to get her car back.

"I just felt like from the moment I said I owned a BMW, I was looked at as a liar," Brock told Pix 11. "They put me in handcuffs and said they just need to put me in handcuffs to take me to my car. And I said 'OK, whatever it's gonna take to get to my car.'"

"Then EMS approached me, and they said, 'We're gonna take you to your car.' And I'm like, 'In an ambulance? I'm going to my car in an ambulance? I'm going to my car in an ambulance?' I was just so confused," she added.

Brock was not taken to her car. Rather, the ambulance took her to the Harlem Hospital psychiatric ward, where she was administered lithium and sedatives. A doctor diagnosed Brock with bipolar disorder, noting that she had suffered from a recent manic episode, medical records show. But Brock's lawyer, Michael Lamonsoff, is calling that diagnosis into question, stating that his client has no history of mental illness.

Brock also says that she woke up to find medical professionals removing her clothes, "specifically my underwear."

"Medical records also show that over the course of her eight-day stay, personnel at the hospital repeatedly tried to get Brock to deny three things before she could be released: that she owned the BMW, that she was a professional banker, and that President Barack Obama followed her on Twitter," the Huffington Post reported.

These three claims, all of which are true, apparently served as the basis for the hospital's determination that Brock was delusional and suffered from bipolar disorder. Brock did own a BMW, she worked as a banker at three major financial institutions, including Chase, Citibank, and Astoria Bank; and President Obama's verified account does follow her on Twitter, as it does more than 640,000 other people.

After eight days in the mental hospital, Brock was finally released. Adding insult to injury, she was billed more than $13,000 for medical expenses related to the hospitalization.

The details of the allegation appear in a lawsuit against the city that the woman filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York earlier this year, contending that her Fourth and 14th Amendments were violated and that she experienced an "unwanted and unwarranted intrusion of her personal integrity, loss of liberty [and] mental anguish."

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Brock's lawyer alleges that race was likely a factor.

"If a white woman was trying to reclaim her BMW impounded by police, would she have been made a victim?" Lamonsoff asked. "Would she have been questioned? Would she have been subject to sarcastic comments? Would she be made to justify who she was in order to ask for help? I don't think so. I do think race played a part in this."

"In my mind, there's probably a race factor involved, but no matter what, there's no reason for anybody to do that to anybody," Brock previously said of the experience.

Earlier this year, city filings claimed that Brock was "acting irrational, she spoke incoherently, and she ran into the middle of traffic on Eighth Ave," but Lamonsoff says that those allegations are without merit, adding that "the true facts of what happened that day will be brought out" through litigation. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and "names the city of New York, unidentified police officers, and Harlem Hospital as defendants," according to the Huffington Post.

ATTN: reached out to NYPD and the department did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.