This case challenges the NYPD’s refusal to disclose information about the role of race in police shootings. In October 2007, the NYCLU filed a Freedom of Information Law request with the NYPD for records identifying the race of everyone shot by police officers since January 1997. After months of stalling, the NYPD ultimately denied the request in May 2008. The NYCLU filed an Article 78 petition in State Supreme Court on Aug. 4, 2008. NYPD shooting reports released in 1996 and 1997 show that 89.5 percent of shooting victims during those two years were black or Latino. The Department stopped reporting information about race in police shootings in 1998, after four white NYPD police officers killed Amadou Diallo, an unarmed black man, in a hail of 41 bullets. At the same time, the Department started reporting the breed of dogs that officers shot.
The issue of race in police shootings reemerged in November 2006 after Department officers fired 50 bullets at Sean Bell, an unarmed black man, killing him just hours before he was to get married. The NYCLU filed its FOIL request as part of an effort to determine if race is playing an inappropriate role in police shootings. In response to the lawsuit, the NYPD agreed to disclose the race of people who were shot by police officers between 1997 and 2006, but it refused to release racial data about people who had been shot at by police officers but not struck by the bullets. In an opinion dated Dec. 15, 2009, Supreme Court Judge Joan A. Madden ruled that the NYPD had not met its burden under the state’s Freedom of Information Law to withhold the data and ordered the Department to turnover racial data of people shot at, but not struck, by police gunfire.
The city has appealed that decision. In June 2010, the First Department pf the Appellate Division affirmed Judge Madden's ruling requiring the NYPD to turnover information about the race of people shot at by police officers over the last 10 years.
State Supreme Court, New York County, Index No. 08 110557 (direct).