CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Police Department officers have routinely violated the constitutional rights of minority residents who have not committed any crime with stop, question and frisk encounters, a federal lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court on behalf of six African-American residents of Chicago and seeks class-action status. It names the city of Chicago, police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and 14 unnamed officers.
The lawsuit alleges the street stops have led to constitutional abuses, including unlawful searches and seizures as well as excessive force.
"This stop-and-frisk policy was borne out of policing that is not correct," said plaintiffs' attorney Anthony Romanucci. "It's unconstitutional, it's illegal, and it's improper. Other cities across this country have brought similar lawsuits, and have had good results."
A spokesman for the city's Department of Law did not immediately respond to an email Tuesday seeking comment on the lawsuit. Spokesman John Holden told the Chicago Tribune that officials were still reviewing the lawsuit and had no comment.
According to plaintiff Gregory Davis, police officers stopped him in July while he waited in his vehicle for a family member to come out of a drug store. The lawsuit alleges officers asked Davis, 58, why he was sitting there and demanded his driver's license and insurance information. It also alleges Davis was stopped without probable cause three months later as he drove through an alley in his neighborhood. The officers took Davis' license and registration and made him wait 20 minutes while doing a background check. He received no charges or citations.
In a study released last month, the American Civil Liberties Union said Chicago officers last summer conducted more than 250,000 stops of people who weren't arrested.
The report based on police department data found that the practice was employed at a rate that was four times as high as New York "at the height" of officers' use of the practice there.
The ACLU also said that almost three-fourths of those stopped were African-American, though they make up about a third of the city's population.
Police officials responded to the study by saying the department prohibits racial profiling and other "bias based policing." They said over the last three years the department has improved training to ensure police officers are aware of that policy and comply, including requiring more detailed documentation and adding more supervision.