Arrested for Recording NYPD Stop-and-Frisk, Community Activist Sues


Hadiyah Charles, a community health activist and one of President Obama's "Champions of Change," is suing New York City after police officers arrested her for recording what she regards as an unjust stop-and-frisk of three teenagers.

From the New York Civil Liberties Union's release:

On June 5, 2012, Ms. Charles was walking from her subway stop to her apartment—a two-block stretch on Clifton Place where more than 60 street stops occurred in 2011—when she saw the two officers questioning and frisking three young men she recognized from the neighborhood. It appeared to Ms. Charles that the youths were fixing an upturned bicycle. The youths repeatedly told the officers that they had done nothing wrong and were only fixing the bike.

Ms. Charles approached the officers and the youths and questioned them about what was happening. One of the officers replied that it was "police business." Ms. Charles was asked to step away from the scene. At this point, she stepped back and began recording the incident with her smartphone. One of the officers tried to stop Ms. Charles from filming by repeatedly asking her to step further away. At no time was she interfering with the police officers' actions.

At one point, one of the officers shoved Ms. Charles—an act observed by several witnesses. Ms. Charles told a supervising officer on the scene that she wished to file a complaint. In response, the officers handcuffed Ms. Charles and placed her in the back of a patrol car. Then she was driven to the 79th Precinct and placed in a small holding cell. While she was detained, an officer told her, "This is what happens when you get involved."

Ms. Charles was freed from the cell after about 90 minutes and issued a summons for disorderly conduct, a non-criminal violation, which was subsequently dismissed. None of the three youths involved in the incident was arrested or issued a summons.

Mayor Bloomberg has accused the NYCLU of "viewing the fourth amendment in absolutist terms" for opposing stop-and-frisks. Because only an absolutist would whine about crack policing like this. City Council members are considering a bill that would require officers to obtain permission to conduct a search and also to provide their name, rank, and a reason for the stop.

In Reason's December 2012 issue, Jacob Sullum notes that the NYPD is scaling back its use of stop-and-frisks, which don't seem to be preventing much crime.