US JUDGE APPROVES CLASS ACTION
LAWSUIT AGAINST NYPD STOP & FRISK
Finding the city’s attitude “deeply troubling,” a judge granted class action status Wednesday to a 2008 lawsuit accusing the New York Police Department of discriminating against blacks and Hispanics with its stop-and-frisk policies aimed at reducing crime.
She called it “rather audacious” of the police department to argue that legislators already would have passed necessary laws if it were possible to protect people from unlawful searches and seizures.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg — both proponents of the program — declined to comment after U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan said in a written ruling that there was “overwhelming evidence” that a centralized stop-and-frisk program has led to thousands of unlawful stops. She noted that the vast majority of New Yorkers who are unlawfully stopped will never file a lawsuit in response, and she said class-action status was created for just these kinds of court cases.
The lawsuit alleged that the police department purposefully engaged in a widespread practice of concentrating its stop-and-frisk activity on black and Hispanic neighborhoods based on their racial composition rather than legitimate non-racial factors. The lawsuit said officers are pressured to meet quotas as part of the program and they are punished if they do not.
Scheindlin said she found it “disturbing” that the city responded to the lawsuit by saying a court order to stop the practice would amount to “judicial intrusion,” and that no injunction could guarantee that suspicionless stops would never occur or would only occur in a certain percentage of encounters.
"First, suspicionless stops should never occur," Scheindlin wrote. She said the police department’s "cavalier attitude towards the prospect of a `widespread practice of suspicionless stops’ displays a deeply troubling apathy towards New Yorkers’ most fundamental constitutional rights."
(Photo Credit: Stephen Nessen/WNYC)
Position- Senior Staff Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights
Darius Charney is a senior staff attorney in the Racial Justice/Government Misconduct Docket. He is currently lead counsel on Floyd v. City of New York, a federal civil rights class action lawsuit challenging the New York Police Department’s unconstitutional and racially discriminatory stop-and-frisk practices, and Vulcan Society Inc. v. the City of New York, a Title VII class action lawsuit on behalf of African-American applicants to the New York City Fire Department which challenges the racially discriminatory hiring practices of the FDNY.
Prior to coming to CCR in 2008, Darius spent two-and-a-half years as an associate at the New York law firm of Lansner & Kubitschek, where he litigated federal civil rights cases challenging various aspects of New York City and New York State’s child welfare and foster care systems. Darius received his JD and M.S.W. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley in 2001. From 2003-2005, he was law clerk to the Honorable Deborah A. Batts, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York.
Floyd et al v City of New York et al
Floyd, et al. v. City of New York, et al.is a federal class action lawsuit filed against the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and the City of New York that challenges the NYPD’s practices of racial profiling and unconstitutional stop-and frisks. These NYPD practices have led to a dramatic increase in the number of suspicion-less stop-and-frisks per year in the city, with the majority of stops in communities of color.
CCR has joined with a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to launch an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York. Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is a campaign that promotes public safety and policing practices based on cooperation and respect– not discriminatory targeting and harassment. It includes a number of community-based, legal and advocacy organizations such as Justice Committee, Make the Road-NY, New York Civil Liberties Union, and the Urban Justice Center.
On May 16, 2012, the Judge issued an Order granting Plaintiffs’ Class Certification Motion.
On April 16, 2012, the Judge issued an Order granting Defendant’s Daubert motion in part and denying the motion in part.
Plaintiffs filed their Motion for Class Certification November 7, 2011.
On August 31, 2011, the Judge denied most of Defendants summary judgment motion, keeping intact Plaintiffs Monell claims against the City, and many of their individual claims.
On October 26, 2010, CCR released an expert report (PDF) for Floyd. The report includes key findings such as:
- Most stops occur in Black and Latino neighborhoods, and even after adjustments for other factors including crime rates, social conditions and allocation of police resources in those neighborhoods, race is the main factor determining NYPD stops.
- Blacks and Hispanics are more likely to be stopped than Whites even in areas with low crime rates, where populations are mixed or mostly White.
- Nearly 150,000 stops over the last six years are facially unconstitutional and lack any legal justification. All together, 30 percent of all stops are unconstitutional, underlining a severe lack of adequate officer oversight in the NYPD.
- Black and Latino suspects are treated more harshly in instances in which police officers make the determination that a crime has occurred. Black and Latino suspects are more likely to be arrested rather than issued a summons when compared to White suspects who are accused of the same crimes. Black and Latino suspects are more likely to have force used against them.
- The rate of gun seizures is nearly zero—0.15 out of a hundred stops—a disturbingly low return for a law enforcement tactic which the NYPD itself claims is designed specifically to remove illegal guns from the streets.
Read a summary of the report here.
Read the full report here.
Floyd, et al. v. City of New York, et al. is a federal class action lawsuit filed against the New York City Police Department that charges the NYPD with engaging in racial profiling and suspicion-less stop-and-frisks of law-abiding New York City residents. According to CCR attorneys, the named plaintiffs in CCR’s case – David Floyd, David Ourlicht, Lalit Clarkson, and Deon Dennis – represent the thousands of New Yorkers who have been stopped without any cause on the way to work, in front of their house, or just walking down the street. CCR and the plaintiffs allege that the NYPD unlawfully stopped these individuals because they are men of color.
The Floyd case stems from CCR’s landmark racial profiling case, Daniels, et al. v. City of New York, et al. that led to the disbanding of the infamous Street Crime Unit and a settlement with the City in 2003. The Daniels settlement agreement required the NYPD to maintain a written racial profiling policy that complies with the United States and New York State Constitutions and to provide stop-and-frisk data to CCR on a quarterly basis from the last quarter of 2003 through the first quarter of 2007. However, an analysis of the data revealed that the NYPD has continued to enagage in suspicion-less and racially pretextual stop-and-frisks.
Have you been stopped by the NYPD?
We are interested in speaking to Black and Latino New Yorkers who feel that they have been improperly stopped, questioned and frisked by members of the NYPD in the last two years, and to learn more about their experiences. If you or anyone you know fits this description and would be interested in speaking to us, please ask them to contact: Sunita Patel at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ian Head at email@example.com. Please note that we are unfortunately unable to take individual cases or give individual legal advice at this time.
Floyd focuses not only on the lack of any reasonable suspicion to make these stops in violation of the Fourth Amendment, but also on the obvious racial disparities in who gets stopped and searched by the NYPD—90 percent of those stopped are Black and Latino, even though these two groups make up only 52 percent of the city’s population- which constitute a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The settlement agreement from Daniels required the NYPD to maintain a written racial profiling policy that complies with the U.S. and New York State Constitutions, required the NYPD audit officers who engage in stop-and-frisks and their supervisors to determine whether and to what extent the stop-and-frisks are based on reasonable suspicion and whether and to what extent the stop-and-frisks are being documented, and it required the NYPD to provide stop-and-frisk data to CCR on a quarterly basis, among other provisions.
But after significant non-compliance with the consent decree and after new information released publicly by the City showed a remarkable increase in stop-and-frisks from 2002 to 2006, CCR decided to file this new lawsuit challenging the NYPD’s racial profiling and stop-and-frisk policy.
In 2008, the Center for Constitutional Rights produced a preliminary report on the NYPD’s behavioral trends during Stop and Frisk procedures. The report is available as a PDF download. Additional information, analysis, and reporting can be found on our site at http://ccrjustice.org/stopandfrisk.
- 2011 Data Reveals Record Number of Stop-and-Frisks With No Change in Racial Disparities (February 2012)
- Judge Allows Lawsuit Challenging the NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk Policy to Move Forward (August 31, 2011)
- Floyd witness Nicholas Peart on Democracy Now!: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-fdIWXO2XY
- ABC’s Jim Hoffer reports on stop-and-frisk: http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/video?id=8337678
- ABC’s Jim Hoffer reports on stop-and-frisk: http://abclocal.go.com/kfsn/video?id=7975868
- ABC’s Jim Hoffer reports on stop-and-frisk: http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/video?id=7382367
- ABC’s Jim Hoffer reports on stop-and-frisk: http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/video?id=7747015
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