The ACLU-NJ filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing, among other things, that racial bias sometimes impacts officers’ suspicions about whether people of color are engaged in criminal activity or are armed and dangerous. Because the law uses a “reasonable suspicion” test to determine whether a detention or pat-down search is constitutional, the ACLU-NJ cautioned that officer assumptions are not “reasonable” when based on racial bias. The ACLU-NJ argued that the police did not have authority in this case to detain hotel occupants to conduct warrant checks because they had no reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, and that the police did not have authority to pat-down one of the defendants because they had no reasonable suspicion, particularized to him, that he was armed and dangerous. As summarized in Point III of the ACLU-NJ brief, “a police officer’s presumption that a group of people of color are engaged in criminal activity and are ‘armed and dangerous’ is not reasonable suspicion; it is racial bias.”
The case was argued at the New Jersey Supreme Court on October 9, 2018.
- Chisum & Woodard: Amicus Brief (175 KB pdf)