"It was a nightmare," Stephanie Adams, 35, said at a news conference Friday announcing the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages.
The city had no immediate response. The cab driver, 40-year-old Eric Darko, denied any wrongdoing.
"She thinks she's got a case, but I didn't do nothing," Darko said when reached by telephone.
The lawsuit stems from a May 25 incident that began when Adams — Miss November 1992 — caught Darko's cab to take to her apartment. After they argued over where to drop her off, he cursed her out, called police and made the false report that she had a gun, Adams alleges.
Adams said she made her own call to police after Darko pushed a rear car door into her as she tried to get out.
A few moments later, plainclothes police officers surrounded Adams on the street with guns drawn, grabbed her purse and pushed her to the ground, she said. When they searched her bag and realized she was unarmed, they let her go without an apology.
"It was not necessary for them to throw her down to the ground," said Adams' attorney, Sanford Rubenstein.
The complaint filed in state Supreme Court in Manhattan accuses police of assault and claims Adams "suffered great pain, distress, mental shock, mental anguish and psychological trauma."
Adams also complained to the city Taxi & Limousine Commission, which has suspended Darko's taxi license. A TLC investigator reported that the driver told him he called police after she flashed her "vampire teeth" and threatened to shoot him.
Darko denied making the vampire remark. He accused Adams of causing the ruckus by refusing to pay him a $9 fare, then warning him she had a gun.
"I didn't start anything with her," he said.