The NYPD is accused of illegally collecting about 32,000 DNA samples

A federal lawsuit claims that genetic material is stored on a “suspicious index”.

A federal lawsuit alleges that the New York Police Department secretly took DNA samples without a warrant and stored the genetic material in an illegal and unregulated database forever.

The database lists thousands of people, primarily black and Latino, as “permanent criminal suspects,” according to a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Manhattan.

Plaintiff Shakira Leslie was one of about 32,000 people who took DNA without her knowledge, the lawsuit alleges.

In 2019, Leslie was 23 and left a cousin’s birthday party when police seized the car she was riding in for a traffic violation, the lawsuit says. There was a gun in the car and everyone was arrested, it says.

In Princeton, the lawsuit alleges Leslie was deprived of food and water for more than 12 hours, so when she was finally offered a cup of water, she drank it immediately.

Leslie was released and the charges against him were dropped, but not before the NYPD collected his drinking cup and took his DNA, according to the lawsuit, which was filed by the Legal Aid Society on behalf of Leslie and the second plaintiff. It named several top officials from the NYPD and the city’s chief medical examiner’s office as defendants, who maintain DNA databases.

“Microsoft. Leslie never offered his consent to have his DNA taken and was never sought. And the NYPD did not receive any warrant or court order before secretly taking his DNA and sending the sample to OCME for DNA testing,” the lawsuit states. The analysis violates the plaintiff’s right against unreasonable search and detention.

According to the lawsuit, the police routinely interrogated such people by collecting DNA from a drink, a cigarette or chewing gum and then items. The lawsuit alleges that the genetic material was stored and listed in a “suspicious indicator” that keeps human DNA profiles “through a genetic lineup that compares profiles against DNA evidence from all past and future crime scenes – all with warrants or court orders to operate.” This DNA search without receiving orders. “

“Thousands of New Yorkers, most of them black and brown, and many of whom have never been convicted of a crime, are illegally in the city’s rogue DNA database, which considers people as suspects in every crime involving DNA,” said Phil Desgranges, Legal Aid. An Attorney of the Society. “We simply cannot trust the NYPD to the police, and we look forward to a judicial review of this destructive practice to bring our clients the justice they deserve.”

The New York City Law Department told ABC News they would review the case.

A spokesman for the NYPD, Sergeant. Edward Riley said the department would review the case but said DNA collection was one of law enforcement’s best practices.

“Whenever the NYPD collects DNA from a suspect in a criminal investigation, there is a criminal behind it who is suffering and seeking justice. The NYPD’s driving motivation for DNA collection is to legally identify the exact culprit, create the strongest possible case for investigators and our partners in various prosecutor’s offices, and close the victim and their family, “Riley said in a statement. ABC News.

“Local DNA databases are operated and operated in accordance with the highest scientific standards set by independent recognized organizations that comply with all applicable laws and regularly re-approve the existence of databases,” the chief medical examiner’s office said in a statement.

The Legal Aid Society says in the lawsuit that the database violates state laws that restrict DNA indexing and “arrests and collects DNA of suspects” without supervision and often at the expense of people of color.

“The vast majority of black and Latino people arrested are under the City’s DNA receiving and indexing practice,” the lawsuit states. “The plaintiffs want ordered and decriminal relief to end City’s habit of targeting thousands of people to take their DNA and turn them into permanent suspects, many of whom have never been convicted of a crime.”

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