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Lawsuit accuses Warren cop with troubled history of excessive force, illegal strip search

City of Warren Police Department
via Facebook

A woman is suing a Warren police officer with a troubled history for allegedly abusing her while she was in custody.

In a federal civil rights lawsuit filed in December, Michelle Catinella says that in May of 2019, Officer Bernadette Moore shoved her face into a mirrored glass wall while she was handcuffed, leaving the glass “smeared with her blood.” This happened after Catinella told officers booking her for misdemeanor assault that she planned to file a complaint against them.

Catinella alleges that Moore then took her to another room and strip-searched her. According to the lawsuit, state law prohibits “strip searches for persons arrested or detained for a misdemeanor offense, or an offense which is punishable only by a civil fine, unless certain conditions are met.”

“[Officer] Moore did not satisfy the conditions precedent to conducting a strip search pursuant to” state law, the lawsuit claims.

After the alleged strip search, Moore took Catinella to another room to photograph her. There she allegedly threatened Catinella, “stating she could make [Catinella] disappear, or words to that effect,” according to the lawsuit. The charges against Catinella were ultimately dismissed.

This isn’t the first time Moore has faced allegations of abusing a female prisoner.

In 2014, Moore gained notoriety after a viral video showed her forcibly restraining a woman and cutting off her weave. In 2015, Moore sliced a prisoner’s handwhile attempting to cut off her bracelet. Several other women have also accused her of using excessive force.

Warren Police actually fired Moore after the 2014 weave-cutting incident, but an arbitrator gave her her job back.

Catinella’s lawyer, Marc Deldin, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Warren’s city attorney declined to comment on the case because the city—which is named as a defendant along with Moore—hadn’t been served with the lawsuit yet.

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Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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