Legally blind man files first ‘stop-and-frisk’ lawsuit
A legally blind African-American man has filed a lawsuit against the New York Police Department, claiming he was falsely arrested under the department’s controversial stop-and-frisk program.
Allen Moye, a 54-year-old man from Jamaica, Queens, is the first person to file a lawsuit against the NYPD since a federal court ruled against the stop-and-frisk program earlier this month. In the suit, Moye says that police illegally came after him and violated his civil rights.
He says he was arrested on false charges while he was waiting for a friend at a Harlem street corner in September 2010. Wearing glasses and using a cane to get around, he was approached by a half-dozen NYPD officers on W. 118thStreet. Police stopped and frisked him in a manner that Moye described as “rough.”
“And they didn’t tell me what I did or nothing,” he told the New York Post. “They just went through [my clothes] like I wasn’t even there, and told me, ‘What are you doing here?’ What do you mean, like I’m from another planet? I thought this was a free country and you can go anywhere.”
Moye says that after he complained about the search, he was taken into custody for making the complaint.
“It was racial profiling, what they did,” he told the New York Daily News. “…It’s a different Jim Crow. They try to put everybody behind bars to do their work.”
Moye says he is traumatized by the incident and has not returned to Harlem since the day he was arrested. He says the police there are “like Nazis.”
In the lawsuit, Moye cites the decision made by US District Court Judge Shira Sheindlin, who issued an opinion ruling that the NYPD violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments through the manner in which they conducted stop-and-frisks.
The Manhattan judge ordered the NYPD to end the policy, which is part of the city’s “Clean Halls” program of stopping ‘suspicious’ people outside of residential apartment blocks and subjecting them to random searches.
“While it may be difficult to say when precisely to draw the line between constitutional and unconstitutional police encounters, such a line exists, and the NYPD has systematically crossed it when making trespass stops outside buildings,” Scheindlin’s ruling reads.
Moye is seeking monetary damages for the alleged trauma he endured as a result of racial profiling.
Although Moye’s lawsuit is the first filed in wake of the federal ruling on stop-and-frisk, it is unlikely to be the last. Earlier this week, New York City lawyers predicted that a slew of lawsuits would likely follow the decision made by Judge Scheindlin, with plaintiffs arguing that their civil rights were violated by the city. The Bloomberg administration is still trying to appeal the decision, and city lawyers have asked Scheindlin to hold off on court-ordered reforms for the time being.
“Individuals who believe they are aggrieved during the pendency of the requested stay will still have full opportunity to litigate any claims for money damages due to alleged unconstitutional stop-and-frisk activity,” the lawyers wrote.