On November 27, 2013, eleven minority individuals who had been subjected to stop-and-frisks by the Miami Gardens Police Department filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida against the city of Miami Gardens, its mayor, city manager, and chief of police ...
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On November 27, 2013, eleven minority individuals who had been subjected to stop-and-frisks by the Miami Gardens Police Department filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida against the city of Miami Gardens, its mayor, city manager, and chief of police as well as numerous individual members of the MGPD. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, brought their suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking redress for the violation of their constitutional and civil rights. Specifically, they alleged the defendants' stop-and-frisks are conducted on the basis of race or national origin--instead of probable cause or reasonable suspicion--and thus contravene both the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
In their complaint, the plaintiffs identified three defective policies of the MGPD that give rise to the alleged violations. First, the MGPD employed a quota policy, requiring officers to make a monthly minimum amount of citations, field contact reports, and arrests. Second, MGPD officers abused the "Zero Tolerance Zone Policy" aimed at reducing trespassing and loitering. Officers policing zero tolerance zones would conduct stop and frisks and arrest individuals, notwithstanding that property owners had opted out of the policy or requested--during such incidents--officers desist. And third, the "Racial Targeting Policy" commanded officers to focus their stop-and-frisks on young black males, even where reasonable suspicion was lacking. Accordingly, in addition to monetary compensation, the plaintiffs requested (1) declaratory judgment that the stop-and-frisk policy and practice is unconstitutional; (2) an injunction prohibiting the MGPD's stop-and-frisks generally and its use of quotas and employment of the Zero Tolerance Zone and Racial Targeting policies specifically; and (3) an order that the MGPD adopt remedial policies and programs terminating its practice of stop-and-frisks.
The defendants initially filed several motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim, but the Court (Judge Donald L. Graham) denied the motions as moot in light of the plaintiffs' amended complaint. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed claims against most of the individual defendants, leaving claims only against the city, chief of police, deputy chief of police, and the major in the MGPD who issued the Racial Targeting Policy. The defendants subsequently filed another motion to dismiss, which the Court granted and denied in part. The Court found that Florida statute immunized the defendants against the plaintiffs' conversion claim, but it refused to dismiss their battery claims, explaining the record was insufficiently developed to make such a determination. Finally, the Court dismissed Plaintiffs' claim of tortious interference with a business relationship, noting that the plaintiffs had not opposed the motion.
The case is pending; a jury trial is set for December 15, 2014.David Postel - 03/24/2014