“This is a dangerous decision made by a judge who I think does not understand how policing works and what is compliant with the U.S. Constitution as determined by the Supreme Court,” he said. “I worry for my kids, and I worry for your kids. I worry for you and I worry for me. Crime can come back any time the criminals think they can get away with things. We just cannot let that happen.”
Scheindlin presided over a 10-week bench trial this year that included testimony from NYPD brass and a dozen people — 11 men and one woman — who said they were wrongly stopped because of their race. She found that nine of the 19 stops discussed in court were unconstitutional, and that an additional five stops included wrongful frisking.
Witness Nicholas Peart, who wept on the stand during the trial as he described a frightening encounter with police, said Monday that he hoped the ruling would mean “tremendous steps forward.”
“I felt that it restores a sense of trust,” said the 24-year-old Peart, who is black. “Our voices do count, and count towards something greater.”
Lead attorney Darius Charney, of the nonprofit legal advocate Center for Constitutional Rights, praised the decision as historic and noted that it hinged on the testimony from those stopped.
The class-action lawsuit was the largest and broadest legal action against the policy at the nation’s biggest police department, with 35,000 officers.
City lawmakers have also sought to create an independent monitor and make it easier for people to sue the department if they feel their civil rights were violated. Those bills are awaiting an override vote after the mayor vetoed the legislation.
The monitor appointed Monday will examine stop-and-frisk specifically and can compel changes. The inspector general envisioned in the city legislation would look at other issues but could only make recommendations.