NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Testimony continued Monday in the case that has the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk program before a federal judge.
An assistant teacher in the Bronx, Lalit Clarkson, testified that he had just stepped out for his lunch break from the Grand Concourse Academy and was walking back to school with a clear bag containing the sandwich he’d bought when he was accosted by a pair of plain clothes cops.
He said one of them shouted “Hey. Come over here.” and Clarkson said he walked over because he felt scared and didn’t know what would happen if he didn’t go over there.
When he asked why he was being stopped, he said one of the cops pointed down the block and said “We saw you walking past the drug corner.”
Clarkson testified that the officers asked him three times whether he had a contraband on him, and three times he said he did not consent to a search.
He said he never felt free to leave during the encounter and stood there thinking about his students, wondering what they thought if they saw their teacher being stopped by police.
Another educator, this one from Belgium and working here with a green card, testified that after working in an out of a Petco store at Broadway and 17th Street, he was accused by police of following a woman and asking her for $9.
He denied following the woman.
After police handcuffed him and searched his backpack, they told him he was free to go, but had to walk north. When he protested and headed south to the subway, one of the cops allegedly said, “This is a wise guy. I’m gonna teach him a lesson.”
The educator was arrested and charged with excessive panhandling.
The Center for Constitutional Rights brought the lawsuit against the NYPD on behalf of four black plaintiffs who claim they were stopped by police because of their race. The center alleges that many of the 5 million stops in the past decade, mostly of black and Hispanic men, were made without cause.