Surgeon Arrested For Hitting Cop With Car Is Awarded $1.2M In Lawsuit
by Holly Matkin and Christopher Berg
Manhattan, NY – The former Bronx cancer surgeon who allegedly told police she was the real “hero” before hitting a New York City police officer with her car in 2016 has been awarded $1.2 million dollars in a lawsuit against the officers.
Rachel Wellner had sued for $30 million in her excessive force lawsuit, but the jury unanimously decided she only deserved a $1.2 million payday, according to the New York Post.
“I’m the hero – the cops are not,” Wellner allegedly told the officers before she allegedly ran into New York Police Officer Niguel Vega’s legs with her Volvo in the 2016 incident, the New York Post reported.
The incident occurred at approximately 9:45 a.m. on Feb. 18, 2016, near the intersection of Eighth Avenue and 55th Street, according to the New York Post.
Wellner, who was on her way home from work, pulled her vehicle to the curb so she could run in to the Vitamin Shoppe.
She left her vehicle blocking a crosswalk, and was met by two New York Police Department (NYPD) officers when she returned to her car.
That’s when she learned that she was receiving a parking citation.
“I’m a doctor,” she said dismissively, according to police. “I have patients that are dying. I have to go.”
She became even more irate as the confrontation continued.
“I’m the hero – the cops are not,” Wellner declared, according to the officers. “I don’t accept the summons.”
“All women who are cops are d--es,” she added at one point, police said.
By the time officers went to take the Ivy League-educated surgeon into custody, she was already sitting in the driver’s seat of her vehicle.
“Help! Police are assaulting me!” she began wailing.
She then hit the accelerator, and struck Officer Vega in his legs.
Wellner was originally arrested on charges of resisting arrest and reckless endangerment, but later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct.
She was sentenced to two years of conditional discharge, and was given 10 days of community service.
Wellner was also fired from her prestigious position as the senior breast surgeon at Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care.
She denied having made the “hero” comment, and claimed that she only tried to flee the scene because she was in fear for her life.
According to Wellner, the incident escalated after she asked the officer who was writing her a ticket to hurry up, so she could get back to her patients – even though she was actually on her way home.
She said the officer asked her if she was “some sort of hero or something.”
“No, I don’t consider my self a hero,” she claimed to have responded. “You guys are heroes. But I do have patient emergencies.”
Wellner alleged that one of the officers then “cocked his arm back and punched me with all his might in my chest.”
“He grabbed me right along my rib cage, by the breasts, and started squeezing my body as hard as he could,” she claimed, according to the New York Post.
Wellner said she panicked and hit the accelerator, and denied having ever struck Officer Vegas with her car.
Police apprehended her at gunpoint approximately two blocks away.
“My whole life has been robbed — my job, my passion, my patients, my future, my reputation,” Wellner bawled during an interview with the New York Post. “All over a parking ticket. A parking ticket that escalated into physical violence, through no fault of my own.”
She claimed that the officers were the ones responsible for what occurred.
“Here I was, trying to defuse a situation, offering to move the car, apologizing,” Wellner complained. “I got the feeling I was being pre-judged. The optic was, ‘Here is a doctor who thinks she can do anything she wants.’”
Her attorney, Jon Norinsberg, alleged that the officers outright lied about what occurred during their contact with Wellner.
“The officers’ lies have permanently destroyed Dr. Wellner’s career and reputation,” he said.
“I definitely didn’t hit a police officer,” Wellner added.
Wellner claimed that the incident left her with post-traumatic stress disorder, and that she contemplated suicide due to feeling humiliated.
She said she could barely leave her $4,500-per-month apartment, and that she was too afraid to drive.
Wellner applied for a dozen different positions in five states, but everyone refused to hire her after they “Googled” her, she said.
A Manhattan federal court jury began hearing her case this week, the New York Post reported.
New York City Law Department Attorney Hannah Faddis told the court that Wellner parked across both the crosswalk and a bike lane while she ran in to the store that day, and said that the doctor lied when she told police she was in a rush to get back to work.
“She was going home,” Faddis told the jury. “She just didn’t want to be inconvenienced.”
After she was taken into custody, police allowed Wellner to use her cell phone so she could call her employer, Faddis added.
Instead, Wellner called a reporter at the New York Post.
Since being fired from her job, Wellner co-wrote a movie script about her days of partying as a Dartmouth College undergrad, The New York Post reported.
She’s also penned a semi-autobiographical erotic novel, began a series of children’s books about a kangaroo, and started performing as a stand-up comedian.