Phillips & Associates

Stop and Frisk

Legal Representation in New York City for Victims of Police Misconduct

Racial profiling is now illegal in New York City. According to the NYPD’s own reports, however, its stop and frisk practices historically targeted innocent members of minority communities of color. When this happens, citizens are often unsure of how to file a police complaint about racial profiling or an improper stop and frisk incident. At Phillips & Associates, our civil rights attorneys have experience filing claims of police misconduct in New York City. We can help you pursue justice in the form of compensation if you have been victimized by an improper stop and frisk incident.

Stop and Frisk Procedures

At present, the NYPD is not allowed to simply stop you because you are present in a high crime area, or because you match a generalized description of a crime suspect, such as an "18-year-old black male." An officer can, however, stop you to make a request for information, as long as the officer has stopped you for an objective reason he or she can articulate. However, if the questioning is extended or accusatory, it is considered a common law inquiry, and whether it was proper turns on whether the office had a well-founded suspicion to believe criminal activity was happening. A frisk is a pat-down of outer clothing, and it is only constitutional if the police have a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a person being frisked is armed and presently dangerous.

Under Local Law 71, individuals now have a private cause of action for intentional racial or bias-based profiling as well as police practices and policies that result in disparate impacts on certain populations. Bias-based profiling happens when a police officer uses actual or perceived color, race, national origin, or other marks of identity as a determinative factor in deciding whether to take action against someone. This means that a generic characteristic of your identity cannot be the sole reason you are stopped and frisked.

For example, you cannot be stopped solely because you are a Latina female in an area known for gang activity. By contrast, if you seem to be drunk and threaten to kill an officer, and you also happen to be Latina, a stop and frisk might be warranted.

When a police officer is sued for racial profiling after a stop and frisk under Local Law 71, he or she will have to show a sound basis for his or her actions. Generally, an action brought solely for an illegal stop and frisk is not to recover damages but to change policies. In some cases, an illegal stop and frisk leads to other police misconduct that is subject to a lawsuit for compensation, such as false arrest, assault, battery, excessive force, or police brutality. If you are subject to several forms of police misconduct in a single event or series of events, it is prudent to raise all your claims together with the help of an attorney.

Explore Your Options with a Civil Rights Attorney in New York City

If you are the victim of an inappropriate stop and frisk or other police misconduct in New York City, you should consult a civil rights lawyer without delay. At Phillips & Associates, we offer experienced representation for people whose rights have been infringed in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and the other boroughs of New York City. Call us at (212) 248-7431 or set up a meeting through our online form.

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