A federal lawsuit filed on Monday on behalf of six African-American men contends that the Chicago Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy has violated their constitutional rights. The lawsuit alleges “suspicionless” street stops led to unlawful searches and seizures as well as the use of excessive force by the police department. The suit is seeking class-action status, alleging that the constitutional rights of mostly African-Americans have been violated. The named defendants are the Chicago Police Department, superintendent Garry McCarthy as well as 14 unnamed police officers.
The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Terry v. Ohio permits police to make a stop when there is reasonable suspicion that a person has committed or is about to commit a crime and there is a reasonable belief that the individual is armed and imminently dangerous. In these cases, a brief patdown of the individual’s outer clothing in search for weapons is permitted.
Gregory Davis, 58, is a plaintiff in the case. He alleges that in July 2014, he was waiting in his vehicle for a family member to come out of Walgreens when officers asked him why he was sitting there and demanded his driver’s license and insurance information. The allegations further state after looking into his vehicle, the officers allowed him to return to his home without issuing a citation. Davis was stopped again three months later as he drove through an alley in his neighborhood. He alleges that there was no probable cause for the stop and officers took his license and registration, making him wait 20 minutes while they ran his information. Again, there was no charges or citations issued.
The suit mentions an ACLU report that came out in May that found African-Americans constituted 72% of all stops, while only 32% of the city’s population. It found that African-Americans, especially in white neighborhoods, were stopped at a disproportionately higher rate than whites and Hispanics. According to the ACLU, the police made more than 250,000 stops between May and August 2014, and none of those people were arrested. The Chicago Police Department’s policy requires that officers who make a stop but do not make an arrest fill out a “contact card” listing the age, address, race, time and location, any distinguishable marks/tattoos and the reason for the stop.
A spokesman for the city’s Law Department said officials had no comment as they were still reviewing the lawsuit.
Chicago sued over Police Department’s alleged stop-and-frisk practices, April 21, 2015, www.chicagotribune.com
Lawsuit Seeks To End Police Stop and Frisk Tactics In Chicago, April 21, 2015, www.chicago.cbslocal.com