Alleges mistaken identity led to detainment
A woman working as a Pilates instructor in Beacon is alleging in a federal lawsuit that her civil rights were violated last year when she appeared in court to contest a parking ticket and was mistaken for a suspect with an outstanding warrant and led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
In a lawsuit filed Feb. 2 in federal court in White Plains, Lisa Mazochi said she “was mortified with embarrassment, and extremely nervous and frightened” on Jan. 13, 2020, when Beacon police officers took her out of the courtroom and downstairs to the Police Department, which shares the building at 1 Municipal Plaza.
At the Police Department, according to the lawsuit, she was handcuffed to a wall while officers checked the records. They discovered that neither her face, the spelling of her last name nor her date of birth matched the suspect’s, who police said had burglarized a residence and had a history of drug use, the lawsuit said.
Three officers apologized to Mazochi, and the court dismissed the parking ticket, according to the filing, which names the City of Beacon and several officers who are identified as “John Does.”
City Administrator Chris White declined comment. Jeffrey Rothman, an attorney who is representing Mazochi, said “she’s a law-abiding person” whose last name sounded the same as the suspect’s but whose other identifying information should have been checked by police before they detained her.
“It was a very difficult experience for her, to have her liberty be taken from her, put in handcuffs, and walked in police custody through this courtroom in a community where she works,” said Rothman.
Mazochi said that when told by a female officer that there was an arrest warrant for her, she responded that “they must have the wrong person,” according to the lawsuit. Despite her willingness to go with the officers, Mazochi was told that police procedure required she be handcuffed, according to the lawsuit.
She became “visibly upset at the prospect of being handcuffed and walked in handcuffs through the courtroom,” the lawsuit said, telling the officers she “had family and clients” who lived in Beacon and “that people she knew might be in the courtroom,” according to the filing.
At the police department, Mazochi said the female officer asked her if she “had been in any bar fights.”