An NYPD cop from Long Island who fatally shot himself last year on the side of the Long Island Expressway in Jericho was driven to suicide because of prolonged sexual harassment by his female supervisor, claims a new lawsuit filed by the officer's widow.
Matthew Schindler, 39, a married father of three from Melville, shot himself Feb. 13 after pulling over near Exit 40 in Jericho on his way home from work in the 115th Precinct, based in Jackson Heights, Queens, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court in Queens against the New York City Police Department and Sgt. Christine Hertzel on Jan. 22, claims Schindler's suicide was caused by Hertzel's ongoing harassment, including a falling out the day of his death in which he refused her sexual advances, the suit states.
"Schindler told defendant Hertzel, her sexual advances and demands and their concomitant impact on his work environment and career outlook had caused him to contemplate suicide," said the lawsuit filed by Schindler's widow, Gina.
A city law department spokeswoman said, "We are reviewing the claims," and she "cannot comment further since the matter is pending."
The lawsuit said Schindler and Hertzel did have sex, and that the supervisor threatened to make Schindler's job more difficult if he stopped sleeping with her.
"Schindler was made to understand that he would suffer tangible detriment in his job, job assignments, working conditions and future prospects if he did not submit to the sexual advances and demands of defendant Christine Hertzel," the lawsuit states.
Shortly before he killed himself, Schindler told Hertzel that her "unwanted, repugnant" harassment was causing "psychic injury and suffering," according to the suit, which seeks unspecified damages.
On the day he killed himself, Schindler told Hertzel he would commit suicide if their affair didn't end, the suit says.
The suit said Hertzel told her supervisor about Schindler's suicide threat and their relationship, and that the captain called Schindler afterward in an effort to "rectify his hostile work environment and persuade him against suicide," the lawsuit states.
Schindler later shot himself with his service weapon, the suit said.