The city had tried to have most of the plaintiffs’ claims dismissed.
The message here is clear: Instead of belittling the claims raised by the nine plaintiffs — eight of whom were arrested under questionable circumstances, some in buildings where they actually live — the city needs to settle these cases and ensure that its policies adhere to Fourth Amendment guarantees of freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.
The lawsuit, known as Davis v. The City of New York, is one of three related cases involving stop-and-frisk that are moving through the federal courts. The broader case charges police with stopping and frisking hundreds of thousands of people a year on the basis of race. The third case was brought on behalf of residents of private apartment buildings who say they were illegally stopped, ticketed or arrested in police sweeps similar to those conducted in public buildings.
The facts set forth in the Davis case were distressing, with plaintiffs accusing the police of arresting them as they were waiting to meet friends in the lobby or simply standing at the elevator. One Upper Manhattan resident, Roman Jackson, said he was talking with a friend in the stairwell when the police arrived and told the two men they were “not supposed” to be there.
Mr. Jackson politely explained that he lived in the building. The two were nonetheless ordered up against the wall, frisked and then arrested. The city tried to have the complaint dismissed on the grounds that Mr. Jackson was loitering. But Judge Scheindlin noted that the loitering rules were so dangerously vague as to be unconstitutional and denied the city’s motion.
In their excessive zeal, the police are undermining respect for the law in the very communities where residents’ cooperation is most needed and abridging the rights of people they are supposed to protect.
Original article on The New York Times