Judge orders NYPD to cease stop & frisk in Bronx apartment buildings

A man is stopped and frisked by NYPD in Brooklyn.  Photo by Jeremy Sparig
Jeremy Sparig

A U.S. District Court Judge ruled this morning that the NYPD must cease unlawful stops inside and around private buildings in the Bronx that are enrolled in the NYPD’s Clean Halls program.

As part of Operation Clean Halls, landlords or managing agents register their building with the NYPD, giving the NYPD permission to patrol in and around the buildings.

The case was brought by the NYCLU, the Bronx Defenders, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and the law firm Sherman & Sterling on behalf of about a dozen New Yorkers, most of whom were residents of the buildings in or around which they were stopped and on occasion frisked, searched, or even arrested, according to NYCLU attorney Alexis Karteron.

At least three of the plaintiffs were minors being represented by their parents.

Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered that the NYPD immediately “cease performing trespass stops . . . without reasonable suspicion of trespass.”

A person being stopped must not be made to feel that he or she is not able to “terminate the encounter,” the judge ruled.

In the hearing, Bronx Assistant District Attorney Jeannette Rucker testified to being concerned that stops and arrests were made solely on the basis of a person having entered or exited a Clean Halls building.

Lawyers for the city accused Rucker of inventing the problem to lessen the DA’s caseload, or under pressure from the Bronx Defenders, an organization representing the plaintiffs. Judge Scheindlin dismissed these accusations, ruling, “A prosecutor has professional and institutional incentives to be skeptical of allegations that the police are making stops and arrests without a legal basis.”

“That ADA Rucker overcame her skepticism says a great deal about the severity of the problem,” Scheindlin wrote.

Karteron said that a major problem is that the NYPD’s training “actually leads officers to make unjustified stops.”

“The letter of the law is that officers are only supposed to stop people when they have objective, reasonable suspicion that they have engaged or are about to engage in unlawful activity,” Karteron explained. “It is not suspicious to simply walk in and out of a Clean Halls building.”

The injunction applies specifically to the Bronx, as that is where the attorneys found the problems to be most severe. As of July 2012, there were 8,032 buildings enrolled in Clean Halls citywide, 3,261 of which were in the Bronx.

Karteron said that this is the first decision ordering an injunction against the NYPD for their stop and frisk practices.

Decline to Prosecute Affidavits

Judge Scheindlin also based her decision off of 26 “decline to prosecute” affidavits that the plaintiffs provided as evidence. The DA’s office produces these forms after interviewing an officer or witness and declining to prosecute the case.

These are affidavits describing two such instances:

1. Arresting Officer . . . observed both defendants exit the lobby of . . . a Clean Halls Apartment Building and asked defendants what was their purpose inside of said building and defendant [redacted] stated in sum and substance: I WAS VISITING MY COUSIN [redacted] IN [redacted] but defendant [redacted] remained silent. [Another officer] entered the building to investigate further, however, the arresting officer was unable to articulate how [the other officer] disproved [the speaking defendant’s] claim. [Both defendants were arrested for trespass.]

2. Defendants entered . . . a clean halls building, and exited. Defendant was stopped outside of the location. When the arresting officer questioned the defendant, defendant stated, in sum and substance, I’M JUST CHILLING. Defendant did not admit that he was in the location. [The defendant was then arrested for trespass.]



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

National

At 91, Marvel creator Stan Lee continues to…

By Piya Sinha-RoyLOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Marvel Entertainment's chief emeritus Stan Lee may be in his ninth decade, but it hasn't stopped him from adding…

National

Islamic State says beheads U.S. journalist, holds another

Islamic State insurgents released a video purportedly showing the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley, who had gone missing in Syria nearly two years ago.

Movies

Review: Sadly, Matthew Weiner's 'Are You Here' is…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner tries his hand at movies with "Are You Here," a misjudged Owen Wilson-Zach Galifianakis comedy that turns into a drama.

Movies

Review: 'Love is Strange' is not only a…

John Lithgow and Alfred Molina tie the knot in "Love is Strange," but the film winds up being more about living with people than an activist picture.

Movies

Frank Miller on writing 'Sin City'

Frank Miller's comics career is a long and storied one, with "Sin City" being one of his most individual creations. Here, in his own words,…

Movies

Interview: Jessica Alba is a stripper again in…

Jessica Alba has gotten used to vague phone calls from director Robert Rodriguez, the Austin-based auteur who has made a habit of putting Alba into…

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

MLB

Shane Greene travels unlikely road to Yankees stardom

Shane Greene was throwing a bullpen session on a quiet field at Daytona Beach Community College one day when the ball started moving.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL tight ends (TE)

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…

Wellbeing

What eye symptoms need emergency attention?

Many people experience temporary eye-related problems such as pink eye (conjunctivitis) from a cold virus or a scratched cornea resulting from an object coming into…