New York City police officer Roman Goris is the first to be prosecuted for wrongful application of the city's stop-and-frisk policy under authorities granted to the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) in April. The disciplinary trial began last week, with the CCRB pursuing charges of abuse of power and using stop-and-frisk without legal authority.
The case involves real estate broker Yahnick Martin, who was smoking a cigar in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Prospect Heights in 2011 when Goris approached him to ask if he was smoking marijuana. Martin showed the officer that he was smoking a cigar, but was frisked anyway. After the officer returned Martin's lighter and wallet, Martin sarcastically quipped, "Where's the $100 that was in my pocket?" An argument ensued in which Martin asked for Officer Goris's name and badge number, and Martin was subsequently arrested. Witnesses say Martin was told, “You want to be a smart ass and make accusations, you go to jail" by another officer who was present.
The arresting officers did not allow Martin to remove his keys from his running car and the vehicle was stolen when he was taken into custody. Martin was issued two disorderly conduct summonses.
Until the changes made in April to the CCRB's authority, the watchdog could only present evidence of wrongdoing to New York City Police Department (NYPD) administrators, who would then conduct their own disciplinary trial if they so chose. The police commissioner is still able to change punishments suggested by the CCRB, but advocates of the CCRB's new role regard it as a step forward for civilian oversight and independence in the process of police discipline.
Speaking to the site DNAinfo, Christopher Dunn of the New York City Civil Liberties Union said, "This improves the quality of the prosecutions and should bolster public confidence in the fairness of the process."
The CCRB will likely see many more stop-and-frisk cases in the coming months. Approximately half of the CCRB's 129 open cases involve allegations of stop-and-frisk misconduct.