New York City is appealing a federal judge’s findings that its police department violated the constitutional rights of minorities with its stop-and-frisk search tactic, according to filings in Manhattan federal court.
The city filed notices of appeal today of rulings by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in which she assailed the department policy and appointed an independent monitor to oversee changes. New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said after the rulings Aug. 12 that the city benefited from the policy and that the judge “ignored the real-world realities of crime.”
The mayor is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, parent of Bloomberg News.
“The mayor, the police commissioner and the city vowed to press forward immediately with an appeal -- and we have done so,” Michael Cardozo, the head of the New York’s law department, said in a statement today. “The safety of all New Yorkers is at stake.”
Scheindlin issued her rulings in two cases after overseeing a nine-week trial that ended May 20.
The stop-and-frisk practice as carried out by the city’s police “is fundamentally inconsistent with the law of equal protection and represents a particularly disconcerting manifestation of indifference,” Scheindlin wrote in one of the opinions, describing each stop as a “demeaning and humiliating experience.”
One of the lawsuits was filed by four black men who claimed they were stopped and questioned or frisked by police without reasonable suspicion. Another was filed by people stopped by police who were patrolling private residential buildings under a department program.
Police have engaged in more than 4 million stop-and-frisks in the past nine years, plaintiffs alleged. At least 80 percent of the people stopped were black or Latino, according to court papers.
In an Aug. 12 press conference, Bloomberg said the practice had taken 8,000 guns off the streets over the past decade, helping drive down murders in New York to an average of one a day from six daily in 1990, and accounting in part for a 50 percent drop in homicides since he took office 12 years ago.
“There is just no question that stop-question-frisk has saved countless lives,” Bloomberg said in the press conference. “And we know that most of the lives saved, based on the statistics, have been black and Hispanic young men.”
The city plans to ask the judge to delay the effects of her rulings during the appeal, according to Cardozo.
The case is Floyd v. City of New York, 08-cv-01034, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).