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Shoreham woman claims police broke her legs during arrest

Louise Sigismondi, 37, claims a Suffolk police officer broke her legs after arresting her on a charge of keying her estranged husband's car. Videojournalist: James Carbone (Nov. 27, 2013)

A Shoreham mother claims a Suffolk police officer broke her legs after arresting her on a charge of keying her estranged husband's car, she and her attorney said Wednesday.

Louise Sigismondi, 37, a neuroscientist who works as a regulatory manager for a medical devices manufacturer, said the incident put her in the hospital for six days. She was released Wednesday from Brookhaven Memorial Hospital.

Suffolk police confirmed that Sigismondi was arrested on a complaint of a 2002 Chevrolet Suburban being vandalized and that police took her to the hospital with "a leg injury." A spokeswoman said police would not comment on her allegations.

She was charged with criminal mischief and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors, said her attorney, Scott Gross of Hauppauge.

Sigismondi said on Friday afternoon, two officers came to her door and told her they were there to arrest her. They wouldn't tell her why they were arresting her as they handcuffed her behind her back and put her in the back of the police car, she said.

Sigismondi, who is 5-foot-2 and weighs 115 pounds, said her feet were against the car's front seat because of the way she was positioned and she couldn't put them on the floor when an officer told her to do so. In response, an officer smashed her legs down with his forearm, and broke both of them in the process, she said.

"I couldn't believe it was happening," said Sigismondi, adding that she is now in a wheelchair. "I'm a respectable person who goes to work every day, who has two kids. Now I'm unable to walk."

She said what happened to her "was like something out of a Third World country."

Gross said that because of Suffolk's mandatory arrest policy in domestic cases, they had to arrest her, even though there was no claim of physical abuse. He said his client did not damage her husband's car.

Other than a driving while impaired by alcohol charge two years ago, he said she has no criminal record. Gross said she will file a notice of claim against the county, signaling her intention to sue.

Neither her husband, who lives now with his parents in Wading River, nor their young children were present for the arrest, Gross said. Noting her small size, he said the force used on her was excessive. Gross said emergency room doctors were so shocked by the severity of her leg injuries that they ordered a full body X-ray.

"I don't think she would give any cop a run for their money," he said.

Sigismondi said she will need surgery on both legs next week.

"How will I fulfill my responsibilities to my kids?" she said. "How will I do my job?"

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