NY appeals court vacates another stop-and-frisk conviction
NEW YORK (Reuters) - For the second time in a week, a New York state appeals court has tossed out a weapons possession conviction of a teenager who was searched during a "stop-and-frisk," the New York Police Department's controversial crime-fighting tactic.
In a 3-2 decision released on Tuesday, the court ruled that officers had no justification for searching the 14-year-old boy's backpack where they found a loaded handgun.
The ruling came one week after the same court vacated a weapons conviction for a different teen in another 3-2 decision, finding that officers who stopped and frisked the boy had no "reasonable suspicion" that he had a gun hidden in his jacket.
Last week's ruling drew sharp criticism from Mayor Michael Bloomberg after it became apparent that the boy in question shot a man only months after his earlier arrest.
The two rulings are the latest legal developments in the ongoing battle over the stop-and-frisk strategy in which officers in high-crime neighborhood stop people they consider suspicious.
Police officials have defended the tactic, saying it has helped reduce crime. Critics say the policy disproportionately targets minorities, particularly young black men.
The department conducted more than 685,000 stops last year, and more than 85 percent were either black or Hispanic individuals, according to a recent Reuters analysis.
A class-action discrimination lawsuit against the city brought by four black men who say they were stopped and searched because of their race is pending in Manhattan federal court.
The police, the city's law department, which argued the case on appeal, and the Legal Aid Society, which represented the 14-year-old, did not immediately comment.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Will Dunham)