A New York police officer testified Wednesday that he taunted a 13-year-old African-American during one of the department’s numerous and controversial “stop and frisk” encounters, in testimony given amid a class action lawsuit hoping to prove the policy's racial bias.
Officer Brian Dennis said on the stand Wednesday that he told a handcuffed teen, Devin Almonor, to "stop crying like a little girl," according to The Associated Press. He backtracked during cross-examination, saying he didn't feel the comment was appropriate in retrospect.
The stop happened in March 2010, as Almonor was walking home. Police claimed he was with a group that was making too much noise, and when they confronted him he reached for his waistband. Even though he was not armed and police had no evidence that he did anything wrong, that was all it took to get Almonor handcuffed and tossed into a cell for six hours, according to The New York Daily News.
A judge approved a class action lawsuit over the department's "stop and frisk" policy after police data revealed a vast racial disparity in who gets stopped and who gets charged. Although overall crime is down dramatically in recent years, even as stop and frisk searches have soared more than 600 percent since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office, a full 50 percent of the people subjected to the stops between 2004 and 2009 were black, and another 30 percent were Latino.
Other officers who have testified in the trial said that many stops were motivated by the department's use of quotas for arrests and citations, which were supposedly banned. The quotas led to some officers fabricating charges and making false arrests, just to avoid disciplinary action.