Closing Arguments in Stop and Frisk Trial

Ian Weinstein on WNYC, May 20, 2013

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The trial that has put the NYPD's stop and frisk tactic under a microscope is wrapping up on Monday with closing arguments.

The federal class action lawsuit alleges that hundreds of thousands of stops made by the police were illegal because officers lacked reasonable suspicion. Lawyers for the plaintiffs will also be focusing a portion of their closing arguments on the assertion that the department has been engaged in racial profiling.

Over 75 people have testified in person at the trial during the past nine weeks. Some of most dramatic moments in the courtroom came from secret recordings taped by officers. In one, Deputy Inspector Christopher McCormack who commands the 40th precinct in the Bronx, instructs Officer Pedro Serrano that he needs to stop the "right people."

"I have no problem telling you this, males blacks 14 to 20, I said this at roll call," McCormack is heard saying on tape recorded by Serrano. Plaintiffs' attorneys say comments like his help to illustrate that the NYPD has been criminalizing whole communities of young black and Latino men. It's an allegation that the city vehemently denies.

Ian Weinstein, professor of criminal law at Fordham University Law School, said showing a pattern of search and seizure or 4th amendment violations is easier than proving intentional discrimination.

Whatever the ruling, Weinstein expects the case to be appealed. He notes by then the city will have a new mayor.