The plaintiffs in the class action suit are expected to call a dozen minority citizens who feel they were unfairly stopped by police based on their race.
A 24-year-old, Nicholas Pert, testified in tears that officers handcuffed him, took his keys and placed him in the back of their car before entering his building.
The young man, who cares for his three siblings while working with Harlem’s Brotherhood/Sister Sol organization, made his story public in an opinion piece for the New York Times in December 2011.
Pert was not placed under arrest, and was free to leave when the police returned from the building. It was the fourth time he had been subjected to a “random” police stop since turning 18.
“I was afraid he would go into my apartment, and I wasn’t there to take care of the situation,” he said in court on Monday.“To be treated like that, by someone who works for New York City, I felt degraded and helpless.”
The organization behind the suit, Lawyers for the Center of Constitutional Rights, is working to force reforms into the stop-and-frisk policy, and have suggested that the court appoint a monitor to ensure that the New York Police Department properly implements changes.
Data released by the NYPD in May of last year revealed that blacks and Latinos made up 87 percent of those stopped in 2011. City representatives attributed the alarming statistics to increased patrols in the city’s most criminally active areas.
Not surprisingly, those neighborhoods are populated by minorities. However, data from precincts in majority white areas still showed that blacks and Latinos made up a vast majority of the stops.