By STEPHANIE BERZON & CADITA ROUSSEAU
A Bronx resident broke down on the witness stand Tuesday as he described the ordeal of being stopped and frisked while visiting his fiancée at a Bronx apartment complex.
The testimony came during a hearing this week at Manhattan Federal Court investigating the New York City Police Department’s key crime-fighting tactic known as “Stop and Frisk” and whether it violated civil rights.
Charles Bradley, 52, testified that he told the police that he was at the residential building to visit his girlfriend, who happened to not be there at the time. Officer Miguel Santiago placed Bradley in his van with another sergeant. He was questioned about drugs and then brought to the police station, where he was strip-searched and charged with trespassing.
The “Stop-and-Frisk” debate has been spotlighted recently after the announcement that a class action lawsuit challenging the tactic will go to trial in March 2013 – five years since the case was first filed.
The case stems from a 2008 lawsuit of four black men accusing the department of improperly targeting them because of their race. U.S. District Judge Shira A.Scheindlin granted class action status to the lawsuit last May.
In the first six months of 2012 the police stopped New Yorkers 337,434 times, free run 6 femmes reported the NYCLU. Eighty-nine percent of the stops were innocent.53 percent of those stopped were black,, 32 percent were Latino and nine percent were white, the report alleged.
However, the department defends the tactic, arguing the stops decreased crime rates and took guns off the street.
From 2001 to 2010 violent crimes fell 29 percent here but the NYCLU reported that violent crimes also fell in cities that did not use stop and frisk: 59 percent in Los Angeles, 56 percent in New Orleans, 49 percent in Dallas and 37 percent in Baltimore.
Letitia James lives at the River Park Towers in the Bronx and testified that she has been stopped and frisked six times. On crutches at the hearing, she told Assistant U.S. Attorney Shannon Walker that she had to provide identification twice to prove she was a resident of the building and that once questioned by police, she was not free to leave.
“I am annoyed and frustrated each time I have been stopped by the police,” said James.