Courts Expose Stop-and-Frisk as Racist, Unconstitutional NYPD Harassment Strategy

8 Important Facets of the Legal Decision

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

A US district judge has exposed the NYPD game as an illegal system of quotas and racial profiling imposed on field police from the top of the NYPD.

May 28, 2012  |

This month, a federal judge in New York dealt a blow to “stop-and-frisk,” a policy that resulted in 685,000 recorded police stops in 2011. Eighty-five percent of those stopped were African American and Latino, mostly youths.

US district judge Shira Scheindlin granted class-action certification to a stop-and-frisk lawsuit against the city of New York, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The plaintiffs allege that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy regularly violates the Constitution by illegally stopping and searching scores of people belonging to a particular demographic — black and Latino. Pending the city’s appeal, the class-action ruling will put stop-and-frisk on trial.

Plaintiffs in Floyd et al. vs City of New York also argue that they were stopped by police who did not have the legally necessary “reasonable suspicion” that they had committed or were going to commit a crime. What’s more, the suit alleges, police often performed frisks, but not because they saw a bulge they suspected to be a weapon, another legal requirement.

In her written decision, Scheindlin said the alleged constitutional violations result not from the actions of rogue officers, but from a policy handed down from the very top. “The stop-and-frisk program is centralized and hierarchical,” said Scheindlin, “Those stops were made pursuant to a policy that is designed, implemented and monitored by the NYPD’s administration.” Continue reading

NYPD Officers Shoot and Kill Three Black Men in One Week

Ramarley Graham, killed by NYPD (click for ABC news report)

By TOM HAYS   02/ 3/12, New York Times

NEW YORK — The police department announced Friday that a narcotics officer and his sergeant have been stripped of their guns and put on desk duty amid an investigation of the officer’s fatal shooting of an unarmed drug suspect within a few feet of the suspect’s grandmother inside the family home.

The measures came after the New York Police Department backed away from an initial account saying that the officer had struggled with 18-year-old Ramarley Graham at the door of a bathroom. Police said a bag of marijuana was found in the toilet, suggesting Graham was trying to flush it away before the gunfire erupted.

A grand jury was expected to investigate the shooting to determine if the officers should face criminal charges, said police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who expressed sympathy for the family.

“We’re obviously trying to get the facts,” Kelly said at a news conference. “A young man’s life was taken. … It’s the worst thing that can happen to a parent – to lose a child.”

The NYPD did not immediately release the name of the 30-year-old officer or the sergeant, whose conduct was under scrutiny because he was in charge of the officers who responded to the home.

The shooting stemmed from an NYPD investigation of street corner drug dealing in a Bronx neighborhood. On Thursday afternoon, a police observation team identified Graham as a potential suspect and radioed to other officers that he “appeared to be armed,” Kelly said. In a later transmission, the officers mistakenly reported that “they observed the butt of a gun in the waistband of (Graham),” he added. Continue reading