Jazz Hayden and the Fight Against Stop-and-Frisk

An unlikely activist's battle with the NYPD's frisky business

If each case settles for a minimum of $10,000, that's at least $4 million in cost to taxpayers, not including the cost to the police department in work hours assembling the documents and removing cops from the street to be deposed, and the cost to the corporation counsel in paying lawyers to defend those cases. One wonders how much money the city is willing to spend on this litigation just to stick with the police commissioner's campaign. (We asked the city law department this question but did not receive a response.)

The people who filed suit last month appear to come from all walks of life—an auto mechanic, two high school students, a commuter, a Transit Authority worker, a guy walking home with a bag full of dog food. In all of the cases, the criminal charges, if any, were dismissed.

Take Francis Destouche, for example. Destouche, a 53-year-old auto mechanic with a clean record, was walking home in the Bronx in October 2011 when he was stopped for no apparent reason by police. They searched him, found nothing, and then accused him of "throwing something away." He was arrested, held for 20 hours, and missed his granddaughter's birth. The charges were dismissed. Destouche's lawyer, Paul Mills, alleges that the stop and the arrest were a result of the NYPD's "quota policy."

The majority of New Yorkers targeted in stop-and-frisks are young black and Hispanic males. “Harlem is turning into an open-air prison, a minimum-security prison, and the people think it’s normal,” Hayden says.
Lyric Cabral
The majority of New Yorkers targeted in stop-and-frisks are young black and Hispanic males. “Harlem is turning into an open-air prison, a minimum-security prison, and the people think it’s normal,” Hayden says.
Hayden visits the 32nd Precinct in Harlem, where his arresting officers work.
Lyric Cabral
Hayden visits the 32nd Precinct in Harlem, where his arresting officers work.

"This arrest cannot be explained by any of the common categories of false arrest," Mills says. "He's not even smoking a cigarette. So, if you eliminate the other possibilities, there's no other way to explain it other than it was for the quota."

Mills says Destouche decided to sue because missing his granddaughter's birth was significant. "There are people out there for whom at his advanced age, after a lifetime of respect for the police, to suddenly be abducted and jailed for 20 hours is very upsetting. It was a big deal to him."

Or consider the case of "M.S.," a 16-year-old Staten Island youth who says he was stopped for walking down the street, detained, and searched. His backpack was searched. He was physically restrained. Charges were eventually dismissed. The lawsuit goes on to quote at length from stop-and-frisk studies, which suggest a bias against young black and Hispanic males.

Scott Joyner was waiting for a bus in Brooklyn in June 2011 when he saw cops arresting two other people. An officer walked over and grabbed his arm but released him when he realized Joyner was just standing at the bus stop. Joyner walked to a pay phone to file a 311 complaint, and there he was arrested, he alleges, for trying to make a complaint. Charges were dismissed.

In January 2011, Jamie Jarrett was walking down a Brooklyn street when a van of cops rolled up and began searching him. They found no weapons or drugs. The officers refused to explain why they were placing him under arrest. The charge of marijuana sale was dismissed, but not before Jarrett spent 48 hours in custody.

Kenrick Gray, 32, of Staten Island, claims he was falsely stopped, searched, and detained twice in late 2010, the second time resulting in false arrest. His lawyer alleges racial profiling led to the stops.

Likewise, Jarrett Savage claims he was illegally stopped and frisked in October 2010 in Brooklyn. He was pushed against a wall, searched, and taken to the precinct, where he was strip-searched in front of another prisoner. The charges were dismissed eventually. "This is not an isolated incident," the lawsuit alleges. "The city is aware that many police officers are insufficiently trained to stop, detain, arrest, and strip-search individuals."

Ramon Morales says he was cleaning his car outside his sister's house on Cabrini Boulevard in Manhattan in August 2009 when cops stopped him for no apparent reason, accused him of drug possession, and searched him and the car. They found no drugs but charged him with a DWI, even though he wasn't driving. Eighteen court appearances and nearly two years later, the charges were dismissed. And Morales claims someone stole stuff from his car while it was in police custody.

Daryl George, a 36-year-old transit worker who had never been arrested, sued this month following a questionable stop in January 2011. George says he was talking with a friend about buying an iPod in the lobby of a Brooklyn building when police came in, ordered everyone against the wall, and searched them. George didn't have any contraband, though someone else in the lobby did. George was arrested anyway, and though the charges were dismissed and the case was sealed, he was suspended by the Transit Authority and lost five months' pay and benefits.

Kevin Adams claimed he was illegally searched and arrested in February 2010 in the lobby of the Brooklyn building where he lives with his mother. Later that day—the arrest took place at 10 a.m.—they released him because the district attorney declined to prosecute, but not before he was roughed up and strip-searched in a police van.

Gregory Pope also sued last month. He claims he was walking on Coney Island in August 2011 when he was jumped by four plainclothes officers. They searched him. He told them they couldn't just search him for no reason. After that, they arrested him and strip-searched him at the precinct. The police also took his car to the precinct, where they searched it and caused a range of damage. Pope was held in the precinct for a day and then, inexplicably, released without charges.

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24 comments
Mike Devlin
Mike Devlin

The nexus of this article is to the unadorned fact that there are too many guns in our country. No one is going to take on the gun lobby politically, and meanwhile the police are trying to keep our city safe.

JJD
JJD

This is a clear abuse of power and disregard to the Constitution of the Untied States. This type of behavior by law enforcemnt is reminicent of the Gestapo of Nazi Germany or the KGB of USSR. If we contiune to allow this sort of conduct by Police in this country we a surley doomed to contunie to lose our rights and freedoms that are guarenteed by the Consitution of the United States. Actions such as these is why our country then colonies of Great Britian revolted, fought a war of revoultion against England and formed this great country.

Rickmoore10
Rickmoore10

It is ILLEGAL for cops to frisk anyone unless they have " reasonable suspicion" that they are or about to commit a crime. Reasonable suspicion is " an ARTICULABLE set of circumstances that would lead a person of average intelligence to believe that a citizen was in violation of the law. Of course simply walking down the street does NOt in any way give cops any articulable reason to stop them. A frisk, or Terry patdown, is allowed ONLY when cops have some valid reason to approach you, and the cops CANNOTlegally search your pockets or make you empty them.

The cops in New York and simply violating rights constantly and getting away with it because the politicians want to pander to the cop unions and seem to be doing something about crime. Abusing the rights of the people do not make us safer, and cops should be recorded, both video and audio, every time they interfere with a citizens right to free movement. Cop should be reported and complaints filed, and lawsuits should be brought, preferably on the cop himself so the insurance and taxpayers will not have to keep paying for cop abuse.

Police should ALL be required to wear recording equipment that they cannot turn off or delete; most cops HATE people filming them because they so often break the law and abuse people.Only when individual cops are feeling the heat from their abuse will change come. Every cop needs to be taken down a few notches and understand that we are NOt their subordinates, and that we do not want them harrassing and illegally searching people or their cars and homes without probable cause. Cops HATE any oversight and wish that they could operate without any legal protectuions for the people.

Stand firm for your rights, and if the cops arrest you falsely, SUE them! Only after a lawsuit will a cop decide that maybe they better start obeying the law.

Remember unless the cops have real and valid reasons, reasons that they can relate to a judge and convince him that there was factual basis for the stop and or frisk, then they are violating the law and your rights. you do NOT have to present paper Id to a cop unless you are driving..walking along minding your own business is NOT cause for a cop to stop you, request ID, or frisk you. Unless that cop has real and valid information that gives rise to a genuine belief that crime is afoot, they cannot do anything to you and should leave you alone.

Cops are not our friends these days, and their agenda is one of total fear of us so they will dominate all our actions. it is time to stop cops who abuse the law and the people.

Rawdoc
Rawdoc

This is Obama's AmeriKKKa, a nightmare worse even than Bush's, enabled by the people we elected to end the Right Wing's Putsch. Even though Obama admits to prior drug use, his administration's attempt to invalidate the States' Rights to legalise Medical Marijuana has given aid & comfort to those racist Police Officers who see possession of even imaginary quantities of Weed as an excuse to murder people of Colour. This is a Holocaust of Cultural Genocide. The 99% are no longer needed, so kill them off 'legally', because the police seem to get away with murder on a regular basis even with judicial intervention. It is always Kristal Nacht for Inner City Residents who use weed; and this Kristal Nacht does not refer to Champagne....it refers to the murder of young people, our children. Bloomberg & Kelly are rising quickly in the Pantheon of Race Murderers, as they maintain their rictus of innocence even while wallowing in blood.

Jojo Wozz
Jojo Wozz

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Hahaguy
Hahaguy

Stop and Frisk saves lives without infringing on civil liberties.

Yes, nobody should be arrested for having marijuana in their pocket, or an outstanding ticket, but those are whole other issue entirely.

The sole focus of Stop and Frisk should be to remove illegal weapons from the streets. It's not racist to target black and Hispanic young people in a city where blacks are 10 times more likely to be a murderer and 7 times more likely to be a murder victim than whites.

Black and Hispanic communities directly benefit from Stop and Frisk far more than the rest of the city would. Targeting whites and Asians is just a waste of police resources that could be better used in the ghettos.

Hate to say it, but individual blacks and latinos could drastically lower their likelihood of being targeted by Stop and Frisk cops simply by not dressing in a manner that glorifies the gang subcultures.

Ten Ninety Nora Three
Ten Ninety Nora Three

One error in the article, it's not true that "from 2004 to 2009, police stopped 2.8 million people" - that's the number of incidents where the NYPD stopped someone. Many people are stopped more than once.

The numbers are nonetheless a scandal.

Amii Lockhart
Amii Lockhart

Wow, I knew the NYPD were a thug industry, but I had no idea to what extent. Is NYC somehow separate from the confines of the US Constitution?

goodluck in harlem
goodluck in harlem

wait a minute............In a past life, he was a street hustler..........WOW!!!!! way to downplay. the guy is more than a street hustler. How about killer!!!!! They just throw that in there at the end. hilarious. He spends almost 2/3 of his life in jail with a homicide under his belt and gets out and is a pillar of the community!!!! hahahahaha

this guy is one traffic dispute away from heading back to jail.

sad commentary on this community......in mine and most, you have to earn your way to become a pillar of the community and you don't earn that in prison for killing someone in a traffic dispute, selling drugs, or street hustling.

Jones
Jones

dude, don't use the word if you don't know how to spell it. in your quest to show your superior intellect you have in fact revealed the exact opposite.

wgalison
wgalison

http://www.sunnysheu.blogspot....

A man posts a Youtube video saying he had been kidnapped by two NYPD detectives of the Queens DA's office, and threatened with death if he blows the whistle on the mortgage fraud ring that stole his house. He states that he has asked the FBI for witness protection and predicts he will be killed by a New York State Supreme Court Judge and the NYPD cops that kidnapped him.

Weeks later he is found bludgeoned to death on a cul de sac in Queens.

see: http://www.sunnysheu.blogspot....

The NYPD illegally removes his body from the hospital hours after his death and sends it to the Medical Examiner with a fraudulent note saying he died of natural causes.

The medical examiner doesn't play along and rules the cause of death "Blunt force trauma to the head with skull fractures and brain injuries". and the manner of death "Undetermined". Despite the ME's ruling, no investigation is ever conducted and the body is removed from the morgue by a phony "executor" with no relation to the deceased, and cremated with no authorization if his family.

The NYPD refuses to respond to requests for information under New York Freedom of Information Act.

The Village Voice has been fully briefed on the story and has failed to report it.

Please review the website http://www.sunnysheu.blogspot.... and ask the Voice why they are suppressing this story of a government sanctioned assassination and cover up in Flushing Queens.

ClintJCL
ClintJCL

Pigs need their compeuppance.

RealChristian411
RealChristian411

I agree that cops should be sued. But, I don't see why that would stop them from illegally harassing and illegally searching young black men. They are getting ordered and paid to fulfill quotas--and on young men who are not their nephews, sons or even neighbors. There is not enough censure or deterrent to the officer or their loved ones. How can we turn the spotlight on the two officers?

Village Voice, why not publish their names, neighborhoods and precincts, like you did Mr. Hayden's? How many other people have their arrested based on their race? Are they members of anti-black organizations? Segregated organizations? Do they belong to all-white churches with stained glass picturing God or Jesus as white?

Let's inform ourselves about white supremacy and institutionalized racism--and do something about it. Thank you, Mr. Hayden, for your brave example.

Hardworking Black Man
Hardworking Black Man

Bullcrap. I am a 46 year old consultant who has never been in trouble with the law. I made the "mistake" of driving through Harlem and got pulled over by cops who said they didn't like the way I looked at them when I passed them. Then they claimed my 20 year old car was stolen. Then one decided to arrest me after illegally searching my car and finding a pocketknife in my glovebox. Totally legal.

Where was the gang issues? Please. Stop talking like you know black people.

Rawdoc
Rawdoc

Clothing is not protected by our Constitution? Someone is supporting the De Facto criminalisation of a mode of dress? If Bloomberg & Kelly would make them wear Hitler Youth Uniforms then would they stop the Murders? Police approved clothing norms; proud to be AmeriKKKan....

AdcjioaJ
AdcjioaJ

It absolutely is racist to stop the same black and brown youth every day on their way home from school. It's demoralizing when you are suspected of being a criminal just for walking through your own neighborhood. It's a tactic of intimidation and psychological warfare. Some kids are stopped every single day.

blacksocialist
blacksocialist

hahaha, go fcuk yourself you piece of shite cracka.... don't hate to say it, you are a piece of shite cracka... you racist fcuk

Rawdoc
Rawdoc

So in your world punishment lasts forever & it's all right to just marginalise & disempower people because of past crimes.....someone who once sold drugs is much more evil than police officers murdering without even the semblance of probable cause. Let's amend the Constitution to say the Constitution does not apply if the Cop has a grudge against non-whites --oh, I forgot, that used to be the Law In AmeriKKKa, until that pesky Civil Rights Legislation was passed by commie pinko liberals. God forbid social justice or redemption.

Silkroad
Silkroad

You don't have to be a "pillar of the community" to film police brutality and corruption. All you need is a camera.

Rawdoc
Rawdoc

Deformative Action has apparently warped you....

 
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