NJ Supreme Court Tosses Robbery Convictions, Cites Bias in Police Stop 

In Summary

In its ruling, the court said that police didn’t have reasonable suspicion to stop the car given the information they got at the time.

The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed convictions of two Black men who went to prison for the armed robbery of a convenience store, according to the Associated Press.  

It ruled a police stop of their vehicle, which ended up in their arrest, was unconstitutional because it prioritized their race and gender without more identifying factors. 

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“The initial description did not provide any additional physical descriptions such as the suspects’ approximate heights, weights, ages, clothing worn, mode of transportation, or any other identifying feature that would differentiate the two Black male suspects from any other Black men in New Jersey,” Justice Fabiana Pierre-Louis wrote in the ruling.  

Adding, “If that description alone were sufficient to allow police to conduct an investigatory stop of defendants’ vehicle, then law enforcement officers would have been permitted to stop every Black man within a reasonable radius of the robbery.” 

The organizations that submitted briefs to the state’s Supreme Court in defense of the defendants were Black ministers represented by the American Civil Liberties, National Coalition of Latino Officers and the Georgetown Law Juvenile Justice Clinic and Initiative, AP reported. 

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They made the case that the stop pretty much led to racial profiling since other factors made by police, such as the location of the car in connection with the robbery and the occupants’ behavior as they passed an officer responding to the scene, weren’t enough to generate suspicion. 

In May 2011, Peter Nyema and Jamar Myers were pulled over as they drove with another man in Hamilton, according to the Associated Press. Myers plead guilty and got sentenced to 12 years in prison while Nyema pleaded guilty and got sentenced to 15 years behind bars. 

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