A British police officer is suing the New York Police Department and New York State's Department of Social Services after the agency forcibly took her 6-month-old son and placed him in foster care.
Louise Fielden, 42, took her infant son to Antigua while she was on maternity leave and stopped in New York for a two-week shopping trip in April 2014 before she planned to return home to London, The Telegraph reported.
During her stay in the city, New York police officers arrested her, and social services seized her son, after hotel staff alleged Fielden left the baby boy alone in her hotel room.
Now Fielden has filed a $30 million lawsuit against New York city and state, saying she suffered physical abuse when she was arrested, and eight months of emotional trauma since her son was "ripped" from her.
Social workers, who were called by concerned hotel staff, accused the British single mom of leaving son Samuel in her hotel room, and of placing him on the floor unattended. Fielden says there's truth to both claims, but that the reality shows she cares for her son and acted in his best interests.
She told The Telegraph she did leave her son in his crib briefly, when she walked down three flights of stairs at Brooklyn's Chelsea Highline Hotel, to clean his feeding bottles. She said she left Samuel in the room because she used scalding hot water to clean the bottles, and didn't want to risk juggling her son and the bottles at the same time as she walked up and down the stairs.
Fielden said she admits leaving Samuel on the floor in the hotel, too.
"The second occasion I put Samuel on the floor in the furthest corner and I sat and stared at my son who was about a foot away," she told the newspaper. "I know it wasn’t ideal but I was holding a cup of hot tea and there were no chairs that were suitable for him to be placed on and I didn’t have a [stroller]."
New York police officers "stormed the [hotel] room" following complaints from hotel staff, Fielden said, and manhandled her before bringing her to a local precinct, where they left her cuffed to a bar in a holding cell with both men and women. For the next 10 hours, Fielden alleged, New York City police allowed a drunk man to grope her and verbally harass her.
The charges against Fielden -- endangering the welfare of a child and resisting arrest -- were dropped on Jan. 4, but her son remains in the custody of a foster mother. She told the Daily Mail that she was a victim of the "helicopter parenting" trend in the U.S., where "you have to have your child attached to you at all time."
"I feel I need the public to know what I’ve been through," she said, "and how you can have the rug pulled completely from under you."