Yesterday, a federal judge heard testimony from plaintiffs in a class action suit against the NYPD's stop-and-frisk tactics. In addition to the parade of civil rights violations that are a hallmark of stop-and-frisk accounts, a City attorney and a representative of the Bronx DA's office traded barbs over the DA's decision to require a higher standard of the NYPD when it comes to making arrests for trespassing in and around public housing units.
The Wall Street Journal notes that the pointed exchange between City attorney Mark Zuckerman and Bronx DA bureau chief Jeannette Rucker began after Zuckerman questioned Rucker's memo to the NYPD this summer that insisted that many trespassing arrests that occurred on or around public housing units as part of the Clean Halls program were bogus. Rucker stipulated that her office would only prosecute those cases if the arresting officer sat for an interview.
The result, Rucker testified on Tuesday, is that trespassing arrests made as part of the “Clean Halls” program are substantially down in the Bronx, as are the number of cases the district attorney’s office has had to decline to prosecute.
But Mark Zuckerman, a city attorney, sparred with Rucker about whether it was proper to arrest a drunken man passed out in the vestibule for trespassing, with Rucker taking the position that in that case the person should be awakened and made to move, not arrested. That caused Zuckerman to say, “You don’t like prosecuting these cases, do you?”
Rucker denied that and replied, “I’m not trying to get them to stop their arrests. I’m just trying to get them to do it right.”
Also on the stand was security guard Charles Bradley, who was trying to meet his fiancee at her apartment one night last year when he was approached by NYPD officers.
Bradley said when he explained that he worked as a security guard, the officer snapped at him, “I’m trying to treat you like a gentleman and you want to act like a (expletive) animal. You’re going in.”
He was handcuffed and placed in the van, where police questioned him.
“They asked me about drugs, they asked me about guns, they asked me about this that and a third, but not about trespassing,” he said.
At the stationhouse, Bradley was strip searched and eventually released on a desk appearance ticket charging him with trespassing. The case, he said, was later dismissed by the Bronx District Attorney’s Office.
Bradley testified that the experience made him feel "extremely violated, to say the least."