Floyd v. City of N.Y.

959 F. Supp. 2d 540 (S.D.N.Y. 2013)



In order for a Terry stop to comply with the Fourth Amendment, it must be based on a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity may be afoot. That is, the police may make a Terry stop when the officer has reasonable, articulable suspicion that the person has been, is, or is about to be engaged in criminal activity. At minimum, the officer making a Terry stop must be able to articulate something more than an inchoate and unparticularized suspicion or hunch. Reasonable suspicion is an objective standard; hence, the subjective intentions or motives of the officer making the stop are irrelevant.


Floyd, an African-American man, claimed that on February 27, 2008, he was walking on the path adjacent to his house in the Bronx, New York. He encountered the basement tenant, also an African-American man, who indicated that he was locked out of his apartment and asked for help because Floyd's godmother owned the building. Floyd then went upstairs to retrieve the key and he retrieved seven to ten keys because he was unsure of the correct key for the basement lock.[1] Floyd and the tenant went to the basement apartment door and started trying the various keys. After trying five or six keys, they found the correct one. However, before they could open the door, three NYPD officers approached them and asked the two men what they were doing, told them to stop, and proceeded to frisk them. The officers asked the men to produce identification and interrogated the two men as to whether they lived there and what they were doing.


Did the police department violate the Fourth Amendment by conducting unreasonable searches and the Fourteenth Amendment by systematically conducting stops and frisks in a racially discriminatory manner?




[1]-The city was liable for violating plaintiffs' Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights because it acted with deliberate indifference toward the police department's practice of making unconstitutional stops and conducting unconstitutional frisks; [2]-The city adopted a policy of indirect racial profiling by targeting racially defined groups for stops based on local crime suspect data, which resulted in the disproportionate and discriminatory stopping of blacks and Hispanics in violation of the Equal Protection Clause; [3]-Plaintiffs established the city's liability for the violation of their Fourth Amendment rights under two theories: that senior officials were deliberately indifferent to officers conducting unconstitutional stops and frisks; and second, that practices resulting in unconstitutional stops and frisks were sufficiently widespread that they had the force of law.

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