Civil liberties union sues NYPD

August 4, 2008 6:56:50 PM PDT
The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Monday against the New York Police Department, seeking information on the role of race in police-involved shootings. The NYCLU filed a Freedom of Information Law request with the NYPD for records identifying the race of everyone shot by officers since January 1997. The issue emerged after the 2006 shooting death of Sean Bell on his wedding day. Bell, who was black, was unarmed; the officers are black, Hispanic and white.

The NYCLU said it filed the request as part of an effort to determine if race is playing an inappropriate role in police shootings. The NYCLU says the NYPD denied the request in May 2008 but gave the information to the RAND research group, which did not discuss race in its report on the department requested by police Commissioner Raymond Kelly after the Bell shooting.

The suit filed Monday in state Supreme Court in Manhattan seeks the release of the information to the public.

The NYCLU said that in years past about 90 percent of people shot by police were black or Hispanic. The NYPD said the finding comports with the fact that 98.6 percent of all shooting suspects in the last six months were black or Hispanic, as were 97.5 percent of their victims.

The city's Law Department said it hadn't received the legal papers but would review them upon receipt.

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