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Plaintiffs Try To Highlight Stop-And-Frisk Bias With Expert Witness

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A law and public health expert took the stand in the federal trial over the New York City Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy Wednesday, and told the court that he has found the practice is heavily based on race, something the police department vehemently denies. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.

Officers did more than 4 million stop and frisks across the city between 2004 and last year, according to what Columbia professor Jeffrey Fagan told a judge in the trial of the New York City Police Department's stop-and-frisk program.

Fagan was called as an expert by lawyers representing people who said they've been illegally stopped, questioned and frisked.

Fagan said that in more than half the stop, question and frisk forms he examined, police checked off furtive movements as the reason for a stop.

"Anything they think is suspicious can be a furtive movement," said Darius Charney of the Center for Constitutional Rights. "So again, if an officer checks that off on the box on the form, that doesn't tell us anything about what he or she saw because they don't have to describe what the furtive movement is."

Just last month, the police department did order officers to write down what they saw.
According to testimony on Wednesday, 88 percent of people stopped were not arrested or given a ticket.

Plaintiffs' lawyers argued that officers have illegally stopped hundreds of thousands, and that black or Latino young men make up the large majority of all people stopped. Professor Fagan said the stop-and-frisk policy appears to be heavily based on race.

City lawyers will be cross-examining that expert to try to point out he doesn't know everything about NYPD crime fighting-strategies, so therefore his study of stop, question and frisk is not accurate.

Outside the courthouse, a number of women spoke out against stop, question and frisk.

"I heard from mothers across the city, how the same story, how they worry about their sons and daughters when they go out of the house to how are we going to be sure they come home safe," said City Councilwoman Margaret Chin

The federal trial is not about ending the stop-and-frisk policy but changing the way police use it.

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