Cops have a complicated relationship with topless women. Though the law clearly states that it's perfectly legal for ladies to bare their breasts in any public space in the city, cop brains have been classically conditioned to whip out their handcuffs at the first sight of an exposed nipple in any location they don't think it belongs.

Such was the case with Jessica Krigsman, a Brooklyn woman who was sitting, topless, on a bench in Gravesend's Calvert Vaux Park last July when she was approached by two officers, who told her to put her shirt back on, according to a complaint.

Krigsman was apparently prepared for this, because she notified the officers that it has been perfectly legal for women to be topless in public since 1992. One officer's response was to tell her to "stop mouthing off" or she would be arrested. Krigsman pointed out that arresting her would be illegal. Wrong answer! "That's it," he said, before handcuffing her and pulling her shirt over her head in "a very aggressive manner." She was held at the 68th Precinct for five hours on charges of "obstructing a sitting area" (with her breasts?) before she was released.

The charges were dropped in October, and now Krigsman is seeking unspecified damages for civil rights violations, malicious prosecution, assault and battery. Her lawyer, Stuart Jacobs, said that despite having been informed specifically that going topless in public is permissible for both men and women, police just can't seem to get it right. He attributes this apparent disregard for the law as a simple conflict with instinct.

"A lot of time it’s a knee jerk reaction when an officer sees a female in public without her shirt on," he said. "They go 'Oh my God, this person's naked, it can’t be right.'"

"They've been trained and retrained, but it still happens," Jacobs added, referring to several instances of police wrongfully harassing women. But the fact remains that it's legal, and no amount of intimidation will change that.

"It’s a pretty clear cut thing," Jacobs said. "There are no gray areas here."