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This page contains summaries and transcripts from each day of the trial. The transcript is at the end of each day’s update.
The conclusion of Michael Farrell’s testimony took up the first part of the day. There was further discussion of appropriate benchmarks for statistical analysis, discussion of some of the RAND report findings and discussion of how audits of stops and frisks are conducted. Even as the topic at hand was the data and analysis in the RAND report, Farrell testified that he felt further data analysis was needed in order to take steps to address racial discrepancies in stops.
This morning began Round 3 of experts versus experts. CCR’s expert witness, Professor Jeffrey Fagan, and one of the city’s experts, Robert Purtell, made appearances to duke it out over statistical methods. In addition to direct and cross examinations by attorneys, Judge Scheindlin herself had many questions for the two experts. This very technical testimony goes to the heart of the case: what accounts for the undeniably disproportionate NYPD stops of Blacks and Latinos?
Next up was Deputy Inspector Christopher McCormack of the 40th Precinct in the Bronx. McCormack is probably best known for appearing on recordings made by whistleblower officer Pedro Serrano. When Serrano pressed McCormack about who he (Serrano) should be stopping, McCormack replied, “And I told you at roll call, and I have no problem telling you this, male blacks 14 to 20, 21.”
Today, plaintiff’s attorney Jonathan Moore, asked McCormack whether he had indeed given the same description Serrano had recorded – male Blacks, 14 to 21 – to all officers at roll call, and McCormack said yes. He did not seem shy about admitting this. Moore then asked him whether he had any concerns about such a limited description of a criminal suspect, and McCormack said no, he had no concerns.
When discussing Serrano’s stops (in the conversation that Serrano secretly recorded), Serrano talked with McCormack about how he would sometimes give a “warning and admonish,” in which he would approach a group of people and tell them they needed to move along, but he would not stop and frisk or arrest them. McCormack interpreted this to mean that Serrano does not know how to conduct stops, and that he needed to be retrained, as if not stopping and frisking everyone you talk to is somehow not doing your job correctly.
McCormack was asked about Officer Serrano, and said that he questioned Serrano’s leadership ability. This assessment was at odds with those of other supervisors, who gave several positive comments on evaluation forms shown in court, such as that Serrano had good ethics and the ability to be a leader.
McCormack’s testimony near the end of the day included a discussion about when a verbal command from an officer constituted a forcible stop. The discussion focused in part on the tone of voice an officer uses when stopping someone—whether he or she, for example yells “Hey! Stop!” or approaches the person and asks “Hey, could I talk to you a minute?” After, trying to understand what words and tone McCormack believes constitute a forcible stop, Moore said to McCormack, “So I guess you have to be there?” “Yeah,” replied McCormack, “I guess you have to be there.” This seems to leave what constitutes a forcible stop open to an officer’s interpretation.
Tomorrow, McCormack will finish testifying. Then Deputy Commissioner Michael Farrell and Chief of Patrol James Hall will testify.
Today, cross examination of Chief William Morris from Patrol Borough Manhattan North, continued. Yesterday, Morris asserted that he had never received complaints about racial profiling. Today, however, he testified that he has heard numerous complaints from pedestrians of color who have said that they believed they had been stopped for no legitimate reason. When asked, Chief Morris testified that such complaints did not raise concerns for him that the stops may have been a result of racial profiling.
Charney: “I just want to make sure I have the terminology right. When you were referring to the 20 and 1, is it correct that that is a performance goal that is set for officers?”Herran: “Correct.”Charney: “Is another term for that a productivity goal?”Herran: “You call it productivity goal, performance goal.”Charney: “Are you familiar with Operations Order 52, speaking of performance goals?”Herran: “Yes.”Charney: “Are you aware that they use the term performance goal in Operations Order 52?”Herran: Yes.Charney: “Based on what you think a performance goal is, would you believe that the 20 and 1 would be an example of a performance goal that would be permitted under Operations Order 52?”Herran: “I would say yes.”
Today’s proceedings consisted of testimony from CCR’s expert witness in the case, Jeffrey Fagan, and the city’s experts Robert Purtell and Dennis Smith. During the first half of the day, Fagan had a chance to rebut some of the claims Purtell made last Friday, then Purtell was called to the stand to respond.
CCR’s Darius Charney continued his cross-examination of NYPD Deputy Inspector Stephen Cirabisi today. Cirabisi had been the commanding officer of the 107th Precinct in Queens where one of plaintiff David Ourlicht’s stops took place. Cirabisi oversaw the supervisor of the officer who stopped Ourlicht. Charney noted that after Ourlicht’s mother filed a complaint with the NYPD regarding her son’s stop, the same supervisor who reviewed and signed off on Ourlicht’s stop investigated the complaint and determined it was “unfounded.” Charney asked Cirabisi whether he thought this situation presented a potential conflict of interest. Cirabisi said he did not think so.
Mary Cronin, head of the NYPD’s Quality Assurance Division (QAD), continued her testimony this morning. Among many things, the QAD audits officers’ documentation of stop-and-frisk incidents. CCR’s Darius Charney questioned Cronin about the “fail” scores her division gave to almost all NYPD precincts in 2009-2011 for recording stop-and-frisks inadequately. Note that without proper records, supervisors can’t really evaluate the lawfulness of stops.
The day began with the answer to the question on everybody’s mind from Friday’s dramatic decision by the judge to recall James Mahoney and Scott Giacona, the officers involved in stopping Leroy Downs. Last week they had testified that it wasn’t them who stopped Downs. Today, the judge asked them if they recognized Downs, who was sitting in court, and they said no. In turn, she asked Downs if he recognized them, and he affirmed unequivocally that these were the officers that stopped, pushed, frisked and searched him. It was an emotionally powerful moment, embodying in one instance the hope of thousands that there can and will be accountability for the unjust way they were treated by the NYPD.
The day started with testimony from Lt. Cosmo Palmieri, former Integrity Control Officer of the 43rd Precinct where our lead plaintiff David Floyd was stopped. Judge Scheindlin asked Palmieri whether when reviewing officers’ UF-250s he had ever found one that was improperly filled out. “Never,” responded Palmieri. He also admitted he never discussed racial profiling with anyone at his precinct.
The fifth week of the historic Floyd v. City of New York trial got underway with testimony form the head of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, as well as several other witnesses. As we reported last week, former NYPD Chief Joseph Esposito answered a reporter’s question about what he would say to the parents of kids who have been stopped repeatedly by saying, “File a complaint.” The existence of a review process is no excuse for unconstitutional policing, but a look at how that process works through today’s testimony was certainly illuminating.
Former NYPD Chief Joseph Esposito took the stand for a second day. He stuck to his theme from yesterday, namely that racial profiling isn’t a problem at the NYPD. Yesterday, as reported, he said that if there’s reasonable suspicion, there can’t be racial profiling present, and that a properly completed UF 250 form satisfied him that there was reasonable suspicion. Today, he added that he had not gotten complaints about racial profiling from the community.
“I don’t have any electeds, community groups, no people in housing projects” making complaints, the chief asserted. The courtroom – which was coincidentally packed today with public housing residents and activists concerned about the impact of stop and frisk on NYCHA residents – reacted with incredulous laughter.
Judge Scheindlin had a similarly incredulous reaction, and asked Esposito, “You’ve never heard from any community groups?” at which point Esposito qualified his answer to say that he had heard from the Civil Liberties Union and Rev. Al Sharpton but clearly did not consider either part of the “community.”
Esposito also trotted out one of the NYPD’s talking points, that it is Black and Latino communities that benefit most from stop and frisk because crime is highest in Black and Latino neighborhoods. “Young men of color are doing these shootings of young men of color. I’m out there trying to keep the young men from being shot.” Apart from the fact that unconstitutional stops of innocent people aren’t making Black and Latino neighborhoods safer, it’s worth noting that no one ever refers to crimes like, say, yesterday’s stabbing rampage in Texas as “white-on-white crime.”
At lunch, a NY1 reporter asked Esposito what he would say to the parents of the kids who have been stopped so many times each. “File a complaint,” was his answer.
Two additional officers who were involved in the stops of witnesses in the case testified today as well. They were Brian Kovall (Clive Lino stop) and Luke White (Dominique Sandayiganza stop).
In the afternoon Donald McHugh, the commander of the 41st Precinct at the time the Officer Polanco taped roll call conversations there, testified. McHugh is one of the people heard on the Polanco tapes, though his most striking comment today was on another comment captured on tape. McHugh said he thought it “morally offensive to give a direct number” of stops an officer must make.
Community groups (Chief Esposito take note) in court today included Community Voices Heard, Mothers on the Move, Good Old Lower East Side, Families United for Racial & Economic Equality and the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund. As noted, a goal of today’s court presence, as well as an accompanying lunchtime press conference, was to draw attention to the impact of stop and frisk on public housing residents.
Court is in recess until Monday, April 15, and will resume with the continuation of McHugh’s testimony. In the meantime, check out today’s New York Times coverage of Esposito’s testimony yesterday, and this Wall Street Journal interview with NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly that explains “Kelly and his officers” are “suddenly under ferocious political assault” for stop and frisk because (according to Kelly) Democratic campaign strategy is “You suck up to a special-interest advocacy group.” The Journal added, “One such group is the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is suing the NYPD in federal court to stop stop-and-frisk.”
Former NYPD Chief Joseph Esposito, the highest ranking uniformed officer in the department and the highest ranking officer to testify in the historic Floyd v. City of New York trial, took the stand today. He was questioned on a broad range of topics that relate to the department’s oversight of stop-and-frisk policies and its efforts to ensure that stops are constitutional.
Esposito admitted under oath that he never read the Attorney General’s report on racial profiling…that his deposition in this case was the first time he saw the stipulation in the prior Daniels case…that he did not recall whether or how various recommendations in the RAND report were implemented…
But the bulk of Esposito’s testimony centered on his contention that if there was reasonable suspicion, it meant that a stop couldn’t be based on racial profiling. It was the retired chief’s idea of what constituted reasonable suspicion, though, that was troubling. Asked at one point if one could tell solely by looking at a UF 250 form if there was racial profiling, he said yes. But for those in the courtroom – which was packed today by, among others, high school students from East Flatbush – who have listened to the testimony of officers about stops they made in which they contradicted themselves or each other, gave reasons like jay walking or looking repeatedly over one’s shoulder as a reason for a stop, and testified to details they never mentioned at the time, it was abundantly clear that a properly completed UF 250 form is anything but a guarantee that a stop was conducted with reasonable suspicion and without racial bias.
Asked, “if an officer checks off ‘furtive movements,’ that would be enough for you, correct?” Chief Esposito replied, “correct.” “Furtive movements” is the most frequently checked box on the UF 250 and is, according the Prof. Fagan’s testimony, is a weak indicator of a reasonable, articulable suspicion.
Esposito also testified that it is up to supervisors to ensure that officers are engaging in lawful stops. But here, too, those that have sat through three weeks of testimony in this case can point to example after example where supervisors failed to meaningfully review the constitutionality of stops conducted under their supervision. We have heard testimony that they look solely for a properly completed UF 250, don’t talk to officers for further investigation, or fail to look at officers’ memo books as required.
At lunch time there was a press conference in support of the Community Safety Act that included City Council Members Jumaane Williams, Brad Landers and others, as well as national NAACP chief Ben Jealous, local NAACP head Hazel Dukes and Rev. Al Sharpton. The effort to end discriminatory policing is being waged on multiple fronts, with the Floyd case and legislative efforts each being part of a comprehensive strategy for change.
The court heard from five witnesses today, two New Yorkers who were illegally stopped and three officers who were involved in the stops of witnesses who testified last week.
The two stop experiences were related by Dominique Sindayiganza and Lalit Clarkson. Clarkson is a named plaintiff in the case and said that he joined the suit that his experience and those of his friends led him to recognize “there are policies within the NYPD that need to be changed or addressed for police-community relationships.”
The experience he related underscored exactly why. He was on his lunch break, stopped outside a bodega after picking up a sandwich from Subway. He was a second grade teacher, dressed like a teacher, and remembered, “I was thinking, why did you stop me? I’m on my way back to school to teach my kids.”
The officers who testified were Louis DeMarco, involved in the stop of Kristianna Acevedo, and Daniel Leek and Edgar Figueroa, both involved in the stop of Clive Lino. Their stories contained some familiar elements that court observers have come to recognize over the last three weeks. DeMarco was inconsistent in the reason he cited for the stop. Interestingly, he maintained that the stop was not a stop, only an encounter, and explained that stops require reasonable suspicion.
Both Leek and Figueroa, meanwhile, admitted that they were subjected to “performance objectives” or “performance goals.”
Figueroa’s testimony will continue in the morning. It will be followed by testimony from Joseph Esposito, former NYPD Chief of Department, the highest-ranking police official to be a witness in the Floyd trial.
Expert testimony continued today, with the conclusion of Prof. Jeffrey Fagan’s testimony in the morning and the beginning of Prof. Eli Silverman’s testimony in the afternoon.
As it had yesterday, the city’s cross examination of Fagan failed to cast any doubt on his research findings. Whether it was his methodology or his data set that was questioned, Fagan confidently demonstrated the validity of his analysis. That analysis has been damning to the city’s case this week, quantitatively substantiating CCR’s claims that stop and frisk violates both the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures and the Fourteenth Amendment’s prohibition against racial discrimination.
Fagan’s research backed up the many stories we’ve heard from New Yorkers about being stopped for no reason, except that they were Black or Latino. In the same way, Silverman’s testimony supported the evidence introduced by whistleblower testimony and the tape recordings heard in court, demonstrating quantitatively the pressure felt by police officers to ‘get numbers.’
Silverman presented findings from two surveys he and Prof. John Eterno did of retired police officers, one in 2008 and one in 2012. In the surveys they asked whether officers had felt “high,” “medium” or “low” pressure to make arrests, issues summons and make stops. In all three categories, the percentage of officers reporting that they were highly pressured shot up dramatically during the Bloomberg/Kelly era. In the case of pressure to make stops, the proportion of cops that reported high pressure to make stops increased almost fourfold (from 9.1% for the pre-1995 era to 19.1% in the 1995-2001 era to 35.1% in the 2002-2012 era) while those reporting low pressure fell by more than half.
"The responses we got floored us....We didn't expect this level of pressure,” Silverman told the court.
Not surprisingly, the reported increased pressure to make stops paralleled the dramatic rise in actual stops that the NYPD made: from 115,000 in 2002 to a peak of 685,000 in 2011, and 533,042 in 2012.
One thing that Silverman and Eterno’s 2012 survey found that did go down was…pressure to obey constitutional rights. For the early era, 44.6% reported high pressure to obey the Constitution, and in the Bloomberg era, that number dropped to 35.7%.
In the courtroom today were CUNY students and faculty. CUNY students, the majority of whom are people of color, are among those targeted by the NYPD for stops and frisks and they held a midday press conference as well, sharing their experiences of beings stopped.
On Monday, Prof. Silverman will conclude his testimony, and the court will hear the stories of two more New Yorkers who were illegally stopped, Dominique Sindayiganza and Lalit Clarkson, one of the named plaintiffs. Also expected to testify are Louis DeMarco and Damian Vizcarrondo, two officers involved in the stop of Kristianna Acevedo.
Prof. Jeffrey Fagan continued his testimony today, covering some of the most important evidence in the entire trial. Yesterday Fagan discussed the conclusions of his analysis as they related to the lack of reasonable and articulable suspicion for stops and frisks, in other words as they speak to our case’s core claims of violating the Fourth Amendment. Today focused on what the data shows about race as a basis for stops, going to our central claims of Fourteenth Amendment violations.
At times the courtroom felt more like a classroom, a graduate-level statistics class. Prof. Fagan talked about the “negative binomial regression” method he used to evaluate the data. There were graphs and tables and at one point even a request from the judge that Prof. Fagan draw her a picture explaining the point he was making. Judge Scheindlin was very intent on the testimony and asked frequent clarifying questions.
But even though Fagan’s presentation was dry compared to some of the moving stories we heard earlier from New Yorkers who have been unjustly stopped, it was critically important to the case and, properly understood, just as disturbing.
What his thorough analysis of eight and a half years of UF 250 forms documenting stops and frisks shows is that, after controlling for crime and other variables, “racial composition of the neighborhood is a statistically significant predictor of stop rates.” (We also learned what “statistically significant” means, in essence that the results could not happen by chance, they are not a fluke.) In other words, the higher the percentage of Blacks and Latinos in a neighborhood, the more likely people are to be stopped there. Fagan went on to discuss analysis of stop data based on individuals’ race. Similar to the neighborhood factor, an individual’s race is a statistically significant predictor of how likely they are to be stopped, with Blacks and Latinos more likely to be stopped than whites.
Prof. Fagan spoke at length about the various ways he tested these conclusions, various factors he checked, and the methods he used. At one point he explained a set of tables as his own attempt to “poke holes” in his conclusion about the connection between race and stops. In essence, he was saying that he double-checked his own conclusions by testing other variables and those conclusions held up to the scrutiny.
Fagan’s research shows what millions of New Yorkers already know from personal experience – that people get stopped for no other reason than being black- or brown-skinned. But the fact that this can be proven through statistical analysis is critical to our case. It cannot be dismissed as merely “anecdotal.”
In the afternoon, the city’s attorneys cross-examined Fagan, but they were unable to put a dent in his conclusions because of the thoroughness of his research and methods.
Prof. Fagan’s testimony will continue and conclude tomorrow.
For years the NYPD was been selectively presenting its stop-and-frisk statistics to attempt to justify why it stops thousands of innocent New Yorkers every day. Today, one of our expert witnesses in the trial, Prof. Jeffrey Fagan, took to the stand to describe his analysis of a decade’s worth of stop-and-frisk data.
The day started with an overview of Fagan’s decades-long career researching and analyzing crime statistics in academia and for other police departments. Plaintiff’s attorneys then proceeded to question him about his findings and methodology.
For this case, Fagan was tasked with analyzing the information recorded by police officers in their stop and frisk reports (UF-250 forms) between 2004 and June 2012. Fagan’s reports can be found in the research section of the Floyd case page.
When asked by the plaintiffs’ attorneys how many arrests resulted from stops according to the NYPD’s own data, Fagan answered: “far less than you would achieve by chance.” The data shows that only around 5 percent of stops result in an arrest issued. Fagan compared the “hit rate” in NYPD stops to the case Indianapolis v. Edmund where random stops were made at check points by police. These random stops resulted in a higher arrest rate – 9% - than the NYPD’s stop and frisks.
Fagan noted that in total, only 11% of NYPD stops resulted in an arrest or summons. This sparked the judge’s interest and she asked: “so basically in 89% of all stops people just walk away?”
From the analysis Fagan also noted that over the years officers have increasingly been checking off the categories “furtive movements” and “high crime area” on the UF 250 forms. At one point the judge asked what the constant rise in these factors indicated to Fagan. He replied it might mean that for an officer it’s “a lot easier to follow a script than do the hard work of establishing reasonable suspicion.”
Fagan also stated that the data shows racial disparities both in terms of people stopped and comparative “harshness” of the stop, meaning that not only are Blacks and Latinos more likely to get stopped even after controlling for crime in the area and other factors, but they are also 14% more likely to have force used against them than whites.
Fagan’s testimony will continue tomorrow and Friday.
Also today, Sergeant Richard Hegney continued his testimony about the stop of plaintiff David Ourlicht. Hegney was in charge of reviewing a complaint against the officer who stopped Ourlicht and failed to act on discrepancies between the UF 250 form and information in the officer’s memo book about the reasons for Ourlicht’s stop.
In the afternoon, women activists and members of Street Wise and Safe, Black Women’s Blueprint, NYCLU, National Organization for Women, and Ms. Foundation, held a press conference outside the courthouse. They spoke about women’s experiences of stop-and-frisk and other forms of discriminatory policing and the fact that these go under-reported.
The morning focused on tapes recorded by Adrian Schoolcraft, who from 2008 to 2009 recorded hundreds of hours of precinct roll calls, conversations with supervisors and stationhouse small talk at the 81st Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant. The tapes and Schoolcraft’s story made a splash when the Village Voice published them in 2010. Of interest to lawyers in the Floyd case were those portions of the tapes that clearly reveal pressure officers faced to ‘get numbers.’
“We need 250s” one lieutenant says in a typical remark on the tapes, referring to the UF 250 forms officers fill out for stops and frisks.
In addition to ample evidence that supervisors pressured officers to “get out, get some activity,” as another typical exhortation caught on tape put it, there were other remarks that reflect troubling attitudes towards community members. “We have to get all the f—ing riff-raff on the corners,” as though standing on a street corner were inherently suspicious.
Another disturbing comment was, “they might live there, but we own the block.”
These comments echo what State Senator Eric Adams testified yesterday Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said to him about Blacks and Latinos: “he stated he targeted that group because he wanted to instill fear in them [that] every time they leave their home they could be stopped and frisked.”
The Schoolcraft tapes were followed by testimony from Steven Mauriello, the commanding officer of the 81st Precinct at the time. Mauriello answered questions carefully, dodging any outright admission that officers were pressured to produce numbers.
The testimony of Officer Richard Hegney, who stopped plaintiff David Ourlicht, was similar, denying the existence of quotas even while being played tapes that clearly indicate pressure to make certain numbers of stops.
Hegney’s testimony will continue tomorrow afternoon. In the morning, CCR’s expert witness in the case, Prof. Jeffrey Fagan will take the stand. Fagan’s testimony is expected to span several days. In two reports, one covering 2004-2009 and the other 2010-June 2012, Fagan’s analysis reveals that after controlling for crime, local social conditions and the concentration of police officers, Blacks and Latinos are significantly more likely to be stopped than whites. Reviewing UF 250s, Fagan’s analysis also shows that hundreds of thousands of stops lacked reasonable, articulable suspicion, thus violating the Fourth Amendment. Both reports and summaries thereof are in the research section of the Floyd case page.
As usual, the courtroom was packed, today with members from the Peoples’ Justice for Community Control & Police Accountability coalition, including Justice Committee, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities. They held a lunchtime press conference as well.
The morning began with the much-anticipated testimony of State Senator Eric Adams. Adams, a 22-year veteran of the NYPD before running for public office, testified about a conversation he had with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly in the context of a meeting with the governor that both men were a part of in July 2010. Kelly said that he “felt that it was a good deterrent,” Adams told the court today, referring to stop and frisk. The senator recalled raising the concern that the policy unfairly targeted Blacks and Latinos. In response, “he stated he targeted that group because he wanted to instill fear in them [that] every time they leave their home they could be stopped and frisked.”
Adams made clear that he is not opposed to constitutional stops and frisks – stops made with reasonable suspicion – but just as clear that unconstitutional stops are “terrible.” “The tool is great, if used correctly,” he said, but “nowhere are you allowed to use the tool to instill fear.”
He also noted that complaints about stops he receives from residents of neighborhoods he represents come largely from African Americans. He doesn’t get complaints from Park Slope, for instance, but does from Flatbush, and in Crown Heights the complaints come from Blacks but not from Hasidim.
Following Adams’ testimony, CCR called Lieutenant Fernando Guimares, the supervisor of the officers that stopped David Floyd, to the stand. Under questioning, he admitted that his review of officers’ stops was limited to checking to see if the UF 250 form was properly filled out. He never discussed the underlying circumstances of stops with the officers under his supervision, he said, nor reviewed their memo books to see if proper entries were made there as required. His reviews, in other words, made no effort to ascertain whether stops were constitutional.
In the afternoon, two witnesses talked about their experiences being stopped by the police. Kristianna Acevedo talked about the frightening experience of being stopped by two officers in an unmarked van. Clive Lino was stopped in the lobby of his apartment building. During the stop, the officer’s cell phone rang, with a 50 Cent ringtone. The officer remarked, “here’s little rap for you, it should calm you down.”
“That’s your problem, you’re stereotyping me,” Lino testified that he replied. “Rap’s not my number one genre of music.”
“Your attitude is the reason you got stopped,” the office replied, according to Lino.
The courtroom was packed, as usual, this time by young people, who also held a midday speak out and press conference. But at the very outset of the day, some of them were told by security guards at the courthouse that they would have to take off or wear inside out their t-shirts that said “I am more than a quota.” They said they were warned that if they put the shirts back on once they got upstairs, they would be arrested.
Tomorrow attorneys will play the tapes of Adrian Schoolcraft, the police officer that recorded hundreds of hours of precinct rolls calls, conversations with supervisors and street encounters, later given to the Village Voice, and who was checked into an emergency psychiatric ward against his will in retaliation. They reveal, among other things, pressure on officers to make stop-and-frisk quotas. Also on the stand will be Steven Mauriello, one of Schoolcraft’s superior officers.
The court was in session for only half the day today due to the holiday. Sergeant James Kelly’s testimony continued in the morning. Kelly was the supervisor present for the stop and frisk of David Floyd, our lead plaintiff.
CCR’s Darius Charney questioned Kelly to determine why Floyd was stopped and frisked in front of his home with a neighbor on February 27, 2008 while trying to open the door.
The officers at the time claimed there had been a string of burglaries in the vicinity. But Darius’s questioning revealed that the crime data for that area included no recorded burglary reports within the three weeks before Floyd’s stop. Prior to that, seven burglaries had been reported on the other side of the Bronx River Parkway, approximately a mile away. According to Kelly, this was still “within the vicinity” of Floyd’s home.
As for the reasonable individualized suspicion required to conduct the stop, when pressed by the Judge on whether he considered a large set of keys a “burglary tool,” Kelly answered yes. Yet Kelly also said that he could not actually see Floyd’s hands from the car when deciding to stop him and his neighbor.
The officers frisked Floyd to make sure he didn’t have any weapons, then, when Kelly was “satisfied” that Floyd lived there, he said “have a nice day” and let him go.
On the stand, Kelly was also asked if he had ever reviewed the NYPD’s racial profiling policy with his officers. His response? Since “a reasonable person isn’t going to racially profile, so it’s not something that’s discussed very often.” Maybe it should be?
Next up, the deposition of Assistant Chief Raymond Diaz was read into evidence. In addition to checking off categories on the UF 250 form listing the reasons for a stop (like the notorious “furtive movements,” or “inappropriate attire for season”), NYPD officers are required to write up details of the stops in their memo books. These detailed descriptions are a critical tool for supervisors to evaluate whether officers are conducting lawful stops. Diaz’s deposition showed that for several years, officers under his command failed to record specific details about the stops they were conducting yet faced no adverse consequences.
Here’s a nice bit from the deposition:
Q. [Plaintiffs’ Attorney] So that means that of all the stops and frisks, 90 percent does not lead to any kind of arrest activity, correct?
A. [DIAZ] Yes.
Q. [Plaintiffs’ Attorney] As a senior police officer in the police department, does that give you any cause for concern?
[MS. ROSSAN] Objection to form.
A. [DIAZ] No.
The day ended with the deposition of Dwayne Montgomery, a precinct commander under Diaz’s supervision, being read into evidence.
Interfaith leaders from the community packed the courtroom today and spoke outside at a press conference about the negative impact of stop and frisk on their communities.
The conclusion of Montgomery’s deposition will be read Monday morning, and then New York State Senator Eric Adams, a former NYPD sergeant, is scheduled to testify. This should be a big one.
Class member Kristianna Acevedo will also take the stand.
Student and youth activists will be joining us in court Monday. They will be doing a press conference at 1:00PM in Foley Square to discuss the impact of stop and frisk on young people, especially young people of color.
Today began with Officer Luis Pichardo continuing his testimony. Yesterday, Pichardo said that he was under direct pressure to make numbers – five summons per tour, and specific numbers of stops and arrests – at the time that he stopped Deon Dennis, one of the plaintiffs in Floyd. While several other cops have testified to the existence of quotas, Pichardo’s admission is particularly significant because he is a hostile witness.
At the conclusion of his testimony, the court heard from two officers involved in the stop of David Floyd (Cormac Joyce and Eric Hernandez) as well as their supervisor, Sergeant James Kelly. Both Joyce and Hernandez testified to details of the stop that they have never mentioned before, retroactively constructing rationales for a baseless stop. Joyce, for instance, today said that Floyd had a “suspicious bulge,” but the UF 250 that Joyce filled out at the time of the stop did not have the “suspicious bulge” box checked off.
Both Joyce and Hernandez have been the subjects of civilian complaints for stops they’ve made, multiple complaints in Hernandez’s case. When shown a photo of the Latino complainant in the complaint against Joyce, Joyce said, “That's half the Bronx.”
Meanwhile, LGBT groups turned out today to raise awareness about LGBT people being targets of stop and frisk, and particularly young LGBT people of color. In the courtroom and outside at a press conference were the New York City Anti-Violence Project, the Audre Lorde Project, FIERCE, Make the Road NY and Streetwise & Safe. Last week, on the first day of the trial, CCR Education and Outreach Director Annette Dickerson published this blog about the NYPD’s targeting of LGBT youth.
Tomorrow will start with the continuation of Kelly’s testimony and the reading of depositions from Raymond Diaz and Dwayne Montgomery; Montgomery was the commander of the 28th Precinct, where Deon Dennis was stopped, and Diaz was the borough commander of Patrol Borough Manhattan North, which includes the 28th Precinct. We’ve been told that State Senator Eric Adams is now expected to testify on Monday. Court will be in session for a half day tomorrow.
WBAI had a great piece on yesterday’s proceedings.
The most significant development in the case today actually centered on a piece of evidence that has not yet been formally introduced.
On March 5, the NYPD’s chief of patrol, James Hall, issued a memo, “effective immediately,” requiring all officers filling out UF 250 forms to include an elaboration of the circumstances and factors involved in a stop, in addition to the check-off boxes of reasons. 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 in its list of injunctive reliefs sought. “Plaintiffs specifically request that the UFT-250 form should be modified to: (i) include a narrative portion for police officers to justify the basis for stop, frisks and searches…” (p. 17) it says.
Just last week, during the opening arguments in the trial, the city’s lawyer derided the idea of adding a narrative portion to the UF 250, saying “NYPD officers take the job to help people, not to be writers.” But now, it seems, the city wants to introduce the March 5 memo ordering officers to do just that into evidence in the trial. The judge indicated that the memo 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.
The day’s actual proceedings began with testimony from the two officers who stopped and handcuffed 13-year old Devon Almonor. Inconsistencies in their stated reasons for stopping him were taken apart in what one observer called “a withering dissection” by co-counsel Jenn Borchetta from Beldock Levine & Hoffman LLP. Brian Dennis said Almonor was stopped because he looked over his shoulder and adjusted his waistband; Jonathan Korabel said he was stopped for jaywalking. (Check out the Daily News’s report on the officers’ testimony: “NYPD cop admits he taunted innocent 13-year-old boy during stop and frisk.”)
In the afternoon, Officer Luis Pichardo, one of the officers involved in Deon Dennis’s stop, testified, as did Sergeant Flavio Rodriguez, the sergeant who investigated Dennis’s civilian complaint and admitted that he spoke to Dennis about it for no more than two minutes. He also said that he had never in his career become aware of any officer having insufficient basis for a UF 250 stop. Pichardo, for his part, became the latest cop to admit on the stand that the NYPD had stop and frisk quotas, testifying that up until at least 2009, there were quotas the 28th Precinct.
The courtroom and two overflow rooms were packed today by members of the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition. Muslims are one of the communities targeted by the NYPD’s stop and frisk program, and have also been subjected to illegal surveillance by the NYPD (CCR together with Muslim Advocates has brought a case against the NYPD for spying on Muslim communities in New Jersey).
State Senator Eric Adams, who was scheduled to testify today, could not make it because of budget negotiations in Albany. We’ll let you know when his testimony is rescheduled. In the meantime, on deck for tomorrow are the conclusion of Pichardo’s testimony, and officers involved in David Floyd’s stop (Cormac Joyce, Eric Hernandez and James Kelly) as well as their supervisor, Lieutenant Fernando Guimares.
NYPD Deputy Chief Michael Marino took the stand today. Marino, the first hostile witness that CCR has called in the case, testified that he set stop and frisk, arrest and summons quotas for officers under his command while at the 75th Precinct. A state arbitrator ruled in 2006 that they were illegal quotas under the state’s labor law, but there were no disciplinary consequences.
Marino testified that he no longer sets quotas but he does have “performance goals.” To those in the courtroom, which was once again packed, it seemed like the classic distinction without a difference.
Lawyers also called as witnesses officers at various levels in the chain of command who were involved with the stop of named plaintiff Deon Dennis, who testified on Tuesday: Detective Angelica Salmeron, Sargent Julio Agron and Captain Rafael Mascol. In addition, the deposition of Raymond Diaz, who was the commanding officer at the Manhattan North Patrol Bureau at the time of the Dennis stop, was read.
Together, their testimony made clear that officials throughout the chain of command failed to meaningfully review stops and frisks and failed to make sure that stops were constitutional.
Meanwhile, the Bronx was in the (court) house! Members of Bronx Defenders, Picture the Homeless, Morris Justice Project of the Public Science Project, Justice Committee and New York Harm Reduction Educators also held a spirited midday press conference. "We recently 'celebrated' 5 million stops made by the NYPD. Isn't that obscene?'' Levele Pointer of NYHRE said. "NYPD shame on you, people of color have rights too!" the crowd of about 30 chanted.
Court will not be in session on Monday and Tuesday – and hence CCR will not send out daily reports on those days – and will resume Wednesday, March 27. In a much anticipated appearance, State Senator Eric Adams, who served in the NYPD for 22 years and co-founded 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement, will testify on Wednesday.
Floyd v. City of New York continues to draw significant media attention, including a front-page article in today’s New York Times and this NPR segment from yesterday. If you’re not already, follow trial updates on Twitter with #NYPDonTRIAL. Tomorrow, CCR Executive Director Vince Warren and Nicholas Peart, whose emotional testimony riveted the courtroom on Tuesday, will be on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show on MSNBC at 11:30am.
New Yorkers packed the courtroom and the overflow room again on Day 4 of the Floyd trial. Pedro Serrano, the second whistleblower officer to take the stand, continued his testimony on the pressure faced by officers to make a certain numbers of stops. Fearing disciplinary action for not complying with these “performance goals,” Serrano began recording his performance reviews with supervisors. The recordings were played for the court.
“I needed proof,” Serrano said, when asked why he recorded the conversations. “They are asking me to do something illegal, stopping people illegally.”
“What happens when you don’t?” He was asked.
"They throw the book at us," Serrano responded, referring to the myriad disciplinary actions an officer can face for not making a specific number of stops, or speaking out against the practice.
Serrano filed a complaint with the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau regarding the pressure he felt to stop people to meet a number. A text message was shown in court today from a sergeant to Serrano that said “U Need to More 250.”
He described what it was like going back to work after he’d spoken out: “I felt I was in a shark tank with multiple stab wounds and they were circling.”
While he was on the stand, Serrano was shown NYPD “Operations Order 52,” which lays out police officer performance objectives, and asked to describe what it means to him. Serrano began reading, then stopped and just said: “What I see there is quota, quota, quota.”
The order explicitly says department managers “can and must set performance goals.”
Near the end of his testimony, Serrano choked up with tears when explaining why he was taking part in this lawsuit. He said “As a Hispanic, walking in the Bronx, I have been stopped many times. It's not a good feeling. I promised as an officer I would respect everyone to my abilities. I just want to do the right thing. That's all.”
The day’s arguments ended with CCR attorneys introducing more audio recordings by another officer as further evidence of the pressure by supervisors on NYPD officers to make stops. Today’s testimony shows that stop-and-frisk is a top-to-bottom problem and those brave enough to speak out about being forced to act illegally are retaliated against for failing to make the numbers and/or questioning the practice.
The day began with a whistleblower cop who spoke emotionally about not wanting his own kids to be shot by an officer fulfilling a stop-and-frisk requirement and ended with Jews and Arabs together celebrating a “Seder in the Streets” linking the Exodus story to the struggle against discriminatory policing and surveillance of Muslim communities. In the world of Floyd v. City of New York – where it’s the NYPD that has to account for its behavior – it was just another (extraordinary) day.
Officer Adhyl Polanco continued his testimony today and CCR lawyers also introduced tapes Polanco had made of precinct roll calls that further support his testimony that the NYPD “wants numbers at all costs.” Polanco asserted that the message officers received was that if they saw a group of Black or Latino kids on a corner they were to stop them and even if there were doing nothing wrong, “handcuff the kids anyway.”
“We are illegally stopping and illegally frisking young Black and Hispanic people,” Polanco said flatly.
It was an intense day for those in the court – which was packed by members of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and the Arab American Association of New York, a powerful community presence – because for many it confirmed the reality of stop and frisk as they and their neighbors have experienced it.
Polanco was followed by a second whistleblower officer, Pedro Serrano, the majority of whose testimony the court will hear tomorrow. In the 40 minutes Serrano was in the stand, he described some of the retaliation he faced for speaking to the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau. In one instance, he returned to the precinct to find his locker had been emptied and its contents replaced by stickers of rodents.
Serrrano’s testimony will continue tomorrow, and the Schoolcraft tapes we mentioned yesterday are also expected to be introduced.
Day 2 of the historic Floyd v. City of New York trial began with ongoing testimony from CCR witnesses who have been illegally stopped and frisked by the NYPD. These included Deon Dennis and Nicholas Peart.
Peart testified at length and was extensively and aggressively cross-examined by the city’s lawyer. He talked about numerous stops and their effect on him; about having the NYPD go through his pocket and then through his wallet; and about leaving the gym – the one thing he does for himself – and having the police stop him. He became teary-eyed at one point when recounting a stop during which the police went into his building with his keys and he was afraid for his younger siblings who were alone in the apartment, not sure what the police might do to them and unable to protect them in that moment. Peart has been the guardian of his three siblings since their mother’s death.
The city’s lawyer asked him if he felt like he lived in a high-crime neighborhood. “I don’t know,” Peart replied. “Compared to what?” He went on to observe that it seemed to him like the NYPD was in Harlem to protect rising housing values, not residents like him.
Peart was followed by the first of CCR’s NYPD witnesses, a whistleblower officer named Adhyl Polanco. Polanco testified about his experience of numbers-driven mandates from his superior officers. The NYPD cares only about how many arrests, how many summons and how many UF 250s officers made, he said (the UF 250 is the form police fill out after a stop and frisk). Polanco reported that officers were expected to make certain numbers of stops, summons and arrests per month, that those numbers were non-negotiable, and that there were significant consequences for not making the numbers. The consequences ranged from being denied overtime, having one’s tour (shift) changed, or being subjected to performance monitoring. He testified that if an officer’s numbers were too low, a sergeant would ride with him or her and point out people on the street and order the officer to stop them – for no other reason than to log a certain number of stops.
One supervisor told Polanco that if he didn’t make his numbers, “you’ll become a pizza delivery man.”
Community members packed the courtroom as on the first day, and New York Communities for Change and Voices of Community Activist and Leaders (VOCAL-NY) held a press conference in support. Press attention continued to be significant.
Officer Polanco will continue his testimony tomorrow, and a second whistleblower officer, Pedro Serrano, is also expected to be on the witness stand. In addition, CCR plans to introduce as evidence some of the tapes made by Adrian Schoolcraft, the police officer that recorded hundreds of hours of precinct rolls calls, conversations with supervisors and street encounters, later given to the Village Voice. They reveal, among other things, pressure on officers to make stop-and-frisk quotas.
The courtroom was packed and the overflow room was, well, overflowing. So much so that the court had to set up a second overflow room to accommodate the hundreds of New Yorkers who came down to the federal courthouse to see for themselves this day when the NYPD went on trial. “This trial is 14 years in the making,” said CCR’s Darius Charney, the lead attorney in the case, during his opening statement. “Plaintiffs are seeking at long last to hold the NYPD accountable” for years of illegal stops and frisks.
The morning consisted of each side’s opening argument. Charney laid out CCR’s case, giving an overview of how the stop-and-frisk program violates the Fourth Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act. After that, two of the city’s lawyers presented their case.
At lunch, CCR Executive Director Vince Warren led off a press conference sponsored by the Communities United for Police Reform coalition that CCR is centrally involved in. Rev. Jesse Jackson, NYC Comptroller John Liu and a host of City Council members, including Jumaane Williams, Tish James, Robert Jackson, Melissa Mark Viverito and Brad Lander, were also on hand to lend their support to this “historic” case – perhaps the most frequently repeated word of the day.
Back in court in the afternoon, CCR’s first two witnesses took the stand. Devin Almonor was 13 when he was stopped and cried when he was handcuffed. “I don’t want anyone else to go through this,” he told the court. David Floyd relayed his experience: “I felt frustrated, humiliated. It was on my own block, I wasn’t doing anything, I was just heading home.”
Floyd will be in the witness stand again in the morning, on cross examination. Deon Dennis and Nicholas Peart are both expected to testify about their experiences of being stopped. And two whistleblower officers, Adhyl Polanco and Pedro Serrano, are scheduled to testify to the existence of stop-and-frisk quotas.