NYPD on Trial: Week 2

The second week of the historic Floyd v. City of New York trial challenging the constitutionality of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program featured a shortened court schedule because the week was bookended by religious holidays. It was only fitting, therefore, that the week ended with faith leaders from a broad cross-section of the city’s many faith communities packing the courtroom and speaking about the negative impacts of stop and frisk on their communities.

In court, the bulk of the week’s testimony was from police officers and supervisors who had been involved in the illegal stops of our plaintiffs and witnesses. Skillful questioning by CCR and co-counsel lawyers laid bare contradictions in their stories, showed that the reasons they now cite for stops weren’t cited at the time, and revealed that supervisors failed to meaningfully review stops throughout the entire NYPD chain to ensure they were lawful.

One officer, Luis Pichardo, said that he was under direct pressure to make numbers — five summonses per tour, and specific numbers of stops and arrests — at the time he stopped CCR’s plaintiff Deon Dennis. Other officers had testified to the existence of quotas in week one, but Pichardo’s admission was particularly significant because he was a hostile witness.

One of the most significant developments of the week centered on a piece of evidence not actually introduced yet. On March 5, the NYPD’s chief of patrol issued a memo, “effective immediately,” requiring all officers to include an elaboration of the circumstances and factors involved in a stop in their paperwork. As it happens, this was the day after CCR filed its remedies brief in the case, which includes exactly this suggested revision of the UF 250 form in its list of injunctive reliefs sought. The city sought to introduce this memo into evidence. The judge indicated that it could not be introduced at this time because there was no officer present in court who could testify to it, but indicated that it would be in evidence once properly admitted.

Meanwhile, the testimony in Floyd is resonating strongly with many New York City communities, and it represents a milestone in a vibrant, growing movement to end illegal stops and frisks. In addition to faith communities who turned out on Friday, the courtroom was packed on Wednesday by members of the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition and on Thursday by an array of LGBTQ groups. Both communities have experienced firsthand the impact of discriminatory policing practices by the NYPD.

Media interest in the trial also continues to grow. There are at least a half dozen reporters in court every day and an informal press conference twice a day, at lunch and at the end of the day.

Highlights from last week’s coverage include stories in The Nation, the New York Daily News,Gothamist, Colorlines and WBAI.

And most importantly, members of communities affected by these egregious policies continue to flood the courthouse and host daily events both in solidarity with CCR and to highlight their members’ own experiences with the NYPD. Last week, members of the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition packed the courtroom on Wednesday and on Thursday, by LGBTQ groups — both communities have experienced firsthand the impact of discriminatory policing practices by the NYPD. And on Friday, members of the Faith community also joined to express their concern that the stop and frisk practice were having a detrimental affect on their constituents.

CCR is continuing to write daily reports from the Floyd trial, which you can read here on the CCR website. We are posting them on Facebook and Tweeting them. If you don’t already, please like Center for Constitutional Rights on Facebook and follow @TheCCR on Twitter. You can support the trial by sharing and retweeting (hastag #NYPDonTRIAL) our daily updates.