A Brooklyn man finding himself the subject of the New York Police Department’s stop and frisk tactic, for a second time, has filed a lawsuit against the city.
Jurard St. Hillaire, 21, saw police officers conducting a seemingly routine traffic stop in Flatbush and decided to record it. Upon noticing that they were being filmed, the officers approached St. Hillaire and proceeded to frisk him. Filming police officers on the job is not, in itself, an illegal activity.
In their attempt to avoid being filmed, unknown to the officers at the time, their stop and frisk of St. Hillaire was being captured by a security camera on nearby building.
As the film shows the police officers aggressively pushing St. Hillaire against a wall to search him.
"This is the second time this particular officer has stopped and frisked my client,” attorney Richard Cardinale told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. “This happens numerous times per day and nothing ever happens to the officers because ... it's not captured on video," Cardinale continued.
Stop and frisk is a practice in which a police officer who reasonably suspects a person has committed or is in the process of committing a crime stops such person and subsequently frisks them for weapons. The widely used program has come under significant fire lately.
In January 2012, Manhattan Federal Court Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered a stop to the tactic in the Bronx due to the “number of unconstitutional stops.” Scheindlin’s stay has now been lifted as the general case against the city for the use of stop and frisk proceeds.
Many civil rights groups assert that the practice is being used to target areas with high concentration of minorities. Mayor Michael Bloomberg defends the tactic, stating “police officers make stops in Brownsville and East New York [for example] not because of race -- it is because of crime.”
In St. Hillaire’s case, his lawyer states that a crime had not been committed. Filing the lawsuit in Brooklyn Federal Court, Cardinale is claiming that his client was falsely arrested and subjected to excessive force by the police. After watching the video in courtroom of U.S. Magistrate Robert Levy, the city’s lawyer doubts the validity of the police officers actions.
“Just looking at the video there didn't appear to be a basis for the stop,” the attorney for the City Pernell Telfort conceded. “That’s my humble opinion.”
The New York City Law Department states: "The attorney was not conceding liability at all. The statement was taken completely out of context and was meant to convey the hypothetical worst-case scenario for the city's case."
“The concession is nice, but the video of the police officers aggressively handling my client and conducting an illegal arrest speaks for itself,” Cardinale said. “The city will settle for what they think is reasonable, and I am okay with that.”