Investigation: Stop and Frisk appears headed to trial

August 31, 2011 8:23:23 PM PDT
The NYPD's key crime-fighting tactic known as Stop and Frisk appears headed to trial.

A federal judge in an 86-page decision ruled that a lawsuit by several plaintiffs raises serious questions about quotas, racial profiling, and constitutional rights that should be heard by a jury:

"It confirms what we and the plaintiffs in the case as well as thousands of New Yorkers have been saying for years, there are serious questions about the legalities and fairness of NYPD's Stop and Frisk program," said Darius Charney, Center for Constitutional Rights.

David Ourlicht, a SUNY Albany college student, is one of the plaintiffs.

"It's thousands of people like me who deal with this on an everyday basis and it's good that it's not being thrown away and it's being heard," Ourlicht said.

In a SKYPE interview, Ourlicht explained how he filed the suit after being stopped and searched numerous times without reason. He says the Judge's decision not to throw out the case moves the lawsuit toward an ultimate goal.

"That people don't have to be living in fear of those supposed to protect us," Ourlicht said.

In her decision the Judge cited "smoking gun roll call recordings" as sufficient evidence to move forward on the claim of quotas. Some of those recordings were heard last year in an Eyewitness News investigation.

"I want a ghost town; I want to hear an echo from one end of the street to the other. You understand that's what I want in a perfect world. So that's your mission. You guys need collars, you need activity, there you go they've got to be removed," said Rollcall video recording.

The judge did rule that officers "were justified in their reasonable suspicion" that led to one Stop and Frisk. But the claims by three other plaintiffs will move forward based in part on testimony before the Judge by Officer Adil Polanco who first blew-the-whistle on Stop and Frisk quotas last year on Eyewitness News.

"I'm not going to keep arresting innocent people, I'm not going to keep searching people for no reason, I'm not going to keep writing people for no reason, I'm tired of this," Polanco said.

In response to the Judge's ruling, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said, "Stops save lives, the NYPD is lawfully engaging in doing just that with the lives of over 2,500 young men of color having been spared over the last decade because of stops and other programs focused on reducing shootings and murders in those neighborhoods where they occur most."


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