The Bushwick bartender wrongly plucked from her place of work in July and thrown in the back of a police van has won $27,000 in damages, her lawyer said—thanks in part because the cop who arrested her has a disturbing history of animal cruelty.
Mandy Jo Reinier was arrested by Officer Dennis Westbrook while she was tending bar at Heavy Woods, on the suspicion that she was "covering for her boyfriend," who was wanted for allegedly vandalizing a nearby wall. According to a complaint, Reinier was dragged from behind the bar and thrown in the back of a police van, where she was refused treatment for her claustrophobia and suffered a panic attack. She was held for two days before she was released.
Reiner sued the NYPD, and last week, won her case, in part because of some pretty damning evidence against Westbrook's character.
Gabriel Harvis, Reinier's lawyer, said a cursory Google search revealed that Westbrook in 2011 posted a gruesome photo of a decapitated dog head to his Facebook page, a photo which incited more than 400 comments on the page "Real Men are Kind to Animals." Harvis said a notation in Westbrook's personnel file corroborated that he was, in fact, the same Dennis Westbrook being excoriated in the comments.
The extremely graphic photo, which was since taken down from Facebook but is still extant [WARNING!] here, appears to have been taken in 2006 while Westbrook was serving in Iraq. Based on the accompanying video—and the laughter heard therein—it seems the dog's head was severed during a planned explosion. Reinier said that "to the best of her recollection," the man holding the dog's head is the same man who arrested her that night. Warning: This video is graphic.
Harvis asserts that the damning photo was instrumental in proving the "moral weakness" in Westbrook's character. "For a law enforcement officer to think it was acceptable to post something like that online showed a profound lack of judgment," he said.
If you skipped the photo, you can still live vicariously through these disturbed commenters. "Even though we know monsters exist, its horrifying to see evidence," one poster wrote. "I think enough people have seen it now and it needs to be removed...it's extremely disturbing," said another.
A few more:
"Considering he has another picture of the same dog head sitting on a wall, I think he did it for fun."
"Who the hell poses like that with a deceased animal???"
Earlier that year, a Dennis Westbrook, identified as an "off-duty NYPD cop who served 15 months in the Army" was quoted in the Post following the killing of Osama bin Laden, calling it a "special day" for the "men and women who paid the ultimate price for fighting terrorism and for freedom."
“Sometimes you take things for granted," Westbrook said. "You never realize the magnitude of what you’re doing until you actually come and go out and see everybody appreciate and show love and respect for the men and women in the service.”
It is unclear whether Westbrook is still on-duty following the incident with Reinier.