Thursday, September 22, 2016

Is flight from the police = reasonable suspicion or consciousness of guilt?

Many courts have said yes over the years. See Illinois v. Wardlow, 528 U.S. 119 (2000).

But the Supreme Court of Massachusetts has rightfully come out the other way in light of recent encounters between black men and the police:
Second, as set out by one of the dissenting Justices in the
Appeals court opinion, where the suspect is a black male stopped
by the police on the streets of Boston, the analysis of flight
as a factor in the reasonable suspicion calculus cannot be
divorced from the findings in a recent Boston Police Department
(department) report documenting a pattern of racial profiling of
black males in the city of Boston. Warren, 87 Mass. App. Ct. at
495 n.18 (Agnes. J., dissenting), citing Boston Police
Commissioner Announces Field Interrogation and Observation (FIO)
Study Results,
results [].13 According to the
study, based on FIO data collected by the department,14 black men
in the city of Boston were more likely to be targeted for
police-civilian encounters such as stops, frisks, searches,
observations, and interrogations.15 Black men were also
disproportionally targeted for repeat police encounters.16 We do
not eliminate flight as a factor in the reasonable suspicion
analysis whenever a black male is the subject of an
investigatory stop. However, in such circumstances, flight is
not necessarily probative of a suspect's state of mind or
consciousness of guilt. Rather, the finding that black males in
Boston are disproportionately and repeatedly targeted for FIO
encounters suggests a reason for flight totally unrelated to
consciousness of guilt. Such an individual, when approached by
the police, might just as easily be motivated by the desire to
avoid the recurring indignity of being racially profiled as by
the desire to hide criminal activity. Given this reality for
black males in the city of Boston, a judge should, in
appropriate cases, consider the report's findings in weighing
flight as a factor in the reasonable suspicion calculus.
Here, we conclude that the police had far too little
information to support an individualized suspicion that the
defendant had committed the breaking and entering. As noted,
the police were handicapped from the start with only a vague
description of the perpetrators. Until the point when Carr
seized the defendant, the investigation failed to transform the
defendant from a random black male in dark clothing traveling
the streets of Roxbury on a cold December night into a suspect
in the crime of breaking and entering. Viewing the relevant
factors in totality, we cannot say that the whole is greater
than the sum of its parts.


Anonymous said...

Looks like opinion was carefully written to avoid US Supreme Court review. Hope it sticks.
Next up, attack on fact that individuals who live in "high crime" neighborhoods have less Constitutional protections.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to our local hero for making the list!

In an announcement expected Friday, Donald Trump will be adding ten more names to his list of possible Supreme Court nominees, CBS News’ Major Garrett confirms.

Here are the GOP nominee’s added picks, first reported by NBC News:

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah
Neil Gorsuch, a judge of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
Margaret Ryan, a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
Edward Mansfield, a justice of the Iowa Supreme Court
Keith Blackwell, a justice of the Georgia Supreme Court
Charles Canady, a justice of the Florida Supreme Court
Timothy Tymkovich, chief judge of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
Amul Thapar, a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky
Federico Moreno, a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
Robert Young, chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court