Four men sued the department in 2004, saying they were unfairly targeted because of their race. There have been about 5 million stops during the past decade, mostly black and Hispanic men.
Scheindlin issued her ruling after a 10-week bench trial for the class-action lawsuit that included testimony from top NYPD brass and a dozen people, 11 men and one woman, who said they were wrongly stopped because of their race.
Stop-and-frisk is a constitutional police tactic, but Scheindlin concluded that the plaintiffs had “readily established that the NYPD implements its policies regarding stop-and-frisk in a manner that intentionally discriminates based on race.”
“When I got the call this morning, the first thing I did was cry,” David Ourlicht, one of the men who sued the city, said.
“It was happiness, it was sadness, it was relief,” the 25-year-old said at a press conference Monday afternoon.
Ourlicht said he’s been stopped dozens of times and hopes the ruling prevents that from happening to his niece and nephews. Five years ago Ourlicht was a student at St. John’s University when he was stopped by a cop, put against a wall and frisked, CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported.
An NYPD officer testified he thought a notebook in Ourlicht’s pocket might have been a gun.
“It shows the polarization of people of color in this country, as to how we are viewed,” Ourlicht said.
“To have experiences like this, that just breaks my heart,” he added.
Ourlicht’s attorney contends police have been illegally profiling.
“Today is a vindication of those claims,” Darius Charney said.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, the nonprofit group that represented the plaintiffs, said in a statement: “Today is a victory for all New Yorkers. After more than 5 million stops conducted under the current administration, hundreds of thousands of them illegal and discriminatory, the NYPD has finally been held accountable. It is time for the city to stop denying the problem and work with the community to fix it.”
Added the Center for Constitutional Rights’ Sunita Patel: “All of these should be seen by police as an opportunity. An opportunity for them to work with the communities they police and an opportunity for them to build back confidence and public trust in what they do.”
The case was the largest and most broad legal action against the policy.
Bloomberg has said the stop-and-frisk program has helped keep New Yorkers safe.
“It has taken some 8,000 guns off the streets over the past decade and some 80,000 other weapons,” the mayor said Monday. “As guns continue to flow onto our streets from other states, we have to take every constitutionally protected step at our disposal to keep them out and to keep them from being used to kill innocent people.”