New York City to pay out $75mn for nearly 1 million bogus summonses
The city of New York has agreed to pay up to $75 million to resolve a long-running civil rights lawsuit. Police were found to be issuing more than 900,000 summonses without probable cause – as a way to meet quotas.
In the lawsuit, Stinson v. City of New York, the plaintiffs argued that the New York Police Department (NYPD) had been engaging in “a pattern and practice of stopping, seizing, and issuing summonses to individuals without probable cause, in violation of the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and 14th Amendments.”
Lawyers for the plaintiffs have called the lawsuit the largest false-arrest class-action lawsuit in the city's history, with nearly a million summonses issued since 2007 for minor offenses, such as disorderly conduct, trespassing, urinating and drinking alcohol in public.
Sharif Stinson, the lead plaintiff in the case, filed the suit after he was stopped twice by police outside his aunt's Bronx apartment in 2010. Stinson was given summonses for disorderly conduct, but the summonses were later dismissed.
Since then, dozens of other officers joined the lawsuit, alleging that they were ordered to issue summonses "regardless of whether any crime or violation" had occurred in order to meet quotas.
“These are minority police officers walking in minority areas and they are being pressured by their white superiors to basically get more arrests,” Lawyer Emeka Nwokoro told the New York Post. “When they don’t do it, they get punished by the NYPD.”
In the settlement, which still needs to be approved by US District Judge Robert Sweet, the city does not admit that the NYPD was aiming to meet quotas. However, as a part of the settlement, police officers throughout the department will receive notifications that quotas will be banned.
The city has also agreed to set aside $56.5 million to pay the more than 900,000 defendants who were issued summons from 2007 to 2015. All the recipients of bogus summonses will receive a maximum of $150 each. In addition, the city has agreed to pay $18.5 million in legal fees.
Any money not claimed by defendants will be turned back over to the city, meaning that the actual fine could be significantly less.
"We have achieved a landmark settlement in a civil rights case that advances the cause of justice," Elinor Sutton, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said, according to AM New York.