Philosopher to Sue NYC Police for 4th Amendment Violation

Damion Scott, a PhD student in philosophy at SUNY Stony Brook and an adjunct professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, claims his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches was violated, as was a city code against racial-profiling, by two New York City police officers, according to an article in The New York Times (via Shelley Tremain at Discrimination and Disadvantage).

From the NYT:

On Tuesday, a lawyer for Mr. Scott, an adjunct lecturer at John Jay and the City College of New York, sent a notice of claim to the city comptroller, a preliminary step to filing a lawsuit. The lawyer, Gabriel P. Harvis, said he planned to file a suit in Federal District Court in Manhattan saying that the officers had violated Mr. Scott’s Fourth Amendment rights and a city code that forbids bias-based profiling…

Mr. Scott, 42, said that on Saturday he and his fiancée, Akiko Suematsu, had gone onto the roof of a six-story building on Riverside Drive near 151st Street where he has subleased an apartment for about 16 months. A roof door accidentally closed, he said, locking them outside.

He signaled to a resident whom he was able to glimpse through a window, Mr. Scott said, and shouted to a man whom he recognized on an open sixth-floor breezeway, asking for help. After about 20 minutes, he said, two plainclothes officers wearing shields on lanyards arrived.

Mr. Scott said he thanked them for opening the roof door, but was surprised when they ordered him to stand against a wall. He said he told the officers he lived in the building and showed them his passport, but was told it was not valid identification because it did not list a home address. The officers again ordered him to stand facing a wall, he said, with one announcing that he would be searched.

Mr. Scott said he told the officer he lacked probable cause. When asked if he was a lawyer, he said, he replied that he taught at John Jay.

After a back and forth about whether he was permitted to be on the roof, Mr. Scott said that an officer handcuffed and searched him, saying that he was guilty of trespassing. He said the officer used profanity and asked several times, “Who do you know now who can help you?”

The officer threatened repeatedly to bring him to jail, Mr. Scott said, but released him without charges about 15 minutes after handcuffing him.

More information here.

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