The woman seen being violently restrained by her married cop ex-boyfriend — who then had her forcibly committed to a mental hospital on allegedly bogus claims — said video of the incident “speaks for itself” and she is working to disprove the claims he made against her.
“I was not expecting to be a political football. I just want to clear my name,” Michelle Perfanov, 37, told The Post on Tuesday.
Perfanov declined to comment on specifics of the case due to the pending litigation against Officer Ronald Davis, also 37, who is currently behind bars over allegations he used his power as a Pennsylvania State Trooper to have her falsely imprisoned.
“It’s just unfortunate that it had to get to that point,” she said. “I just don’t want everybody’s family and everybody’s stuff dragged into this.”
Formerly a director of communications for Douglas Elliman Real Estate who spent her evenings attending ritzy Manhattan cocktail parties, Perfanov said the abuse she suffered at the hands of an authority figure in the backwoods of Pennsylvania was merely one example of an age-old societal problem.
“This is a bigger picture issue for a lot of people,” she said. “This has been going on since the dawn of time.”
“Most people don’t trust the cops. And it’s funny — me dating a cop,” she added but declined to elaborate why.
Perfanov found herself locked up against her will at the Lehigh Valley Hospital-Schuylkill for several days at the end of August after Davis used a series of purportedly suicidal text messages she’d sent him to obtain an involuntary mental health commitment against her.
When officers from his troop failed to locate her, Davis said “I’ll take care of it myself” and drove to a picnic area at Greenland Tract State Forest, where he found her and without explanation chased her down and restrained her, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Dauphin County district attorney.
As Davis was off-duty at the time and gave no indication he was acting in any official capacity, an apparently bewildered and scared Perfanov fought back and insisted she’d done nothing wrong as Davis body-slammed her to the gravel and pinned her for over 10 minutes.
“You’re insane,” she could be heard saying to Davis. “You’re absolutely insane … and then you paint me to look insane.”
When police finally arrived she was taken to the mental health clinic — only to be released days later after she was deemed mentally sound and not a danger to herself.
“After their initial evaluation, there’s nothing wrong with her. He tried to say that she was going to commit suicide. I can’t see that,” Perfanov’s friend and former roommate, 65-year-old Joseph Hlavaty told The Post. “She’s too free-spirited. She has a brilliant mind.”
Prosecutors agreed, alleging Davis intentionally misrepresented the texts Perfanov had sent him to exert control over her.
The texts were part of an ongoing argument between the pair sparked after Davis reportedly locked Perfanov out of his trailer where she’d been staying and prevented her from collecting her belongings when she voiced plans to leave town.
“I think I’m going to drive off a cliff,” Perfanov wrote in one text to Davis, adding, “If this is where I’m supposed to die then so be it.”
“My mental health doesn’t matter I’m a useless old stupid uneducated piece of s**t,” she said in another, adding she was going to “Go out in style.”
“I don’t even have any clothes you help [sic] them hostage. Oh well I’ll just do it in style naked have a nice life.”
Rather than being the evidence of a dangerous state of mind — as Davis framed them when obtaining the commitment order — prosecutors alleged that when viewed in full context the texts showed little more than a “domestic argument.”
“After reviewing the text messages, your affiants were not able to identify any suicidal or homicidal threats or ideations,” the criminal complaint read.
The texts were sent merely “to illicit a response or reaction from Davis,” according to the complaint, while Perfanov said she “never had intentions of committing suicide.”
Davis’ behavior also reflected a pattern of control and manipulation seen throughout his four-month relationship with Perfanov, the complaint read, which included threats like “I know you’re not crazy, I’ll paint you as crazy,” and “I know the law.”
The officer — who is married with kids — has been charged with unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, felony strangulation, and other charges.