The state Court of Appeals decision, issued last week, came in the gun possession case against a Queens man, Lance Rodriguez, reported by Gothamist. Rodriguez was cycling through Far Rockaway in 2014 when plainclothes police officers stopped him after noticing something “bulky” at his waist, according to the decision. Rodriguez then admitted to police he had a gun in his waistband.
He pleaded guilty to the weapons charge and appealed the case, arguing the officers did not have a lawful basis to pull him over on his bicycle. A 4-3 majority of the Appeals Court agreed and dismissed the indictment against Rodriguez. Rodriguez’s attorney, Hannah Kon, said the ruling set an important precedent regarding cyclists rights against unreasonable search and seizure. “It’s a really important decision because it recognizes that everyone traveling on New York’s roads deserves to have their Fourth Amendment rights protected,” said Kon. “No one should be subjected to more police interference or less Fourth Amendment protections simply because they travel by bicycle instead of car.” The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a brief in the case, arguing that it highlighted how police discriminate against Black and brown cyclists. “Police can still pull over anyone on the road who’s violating a traffic law. Including bicyclists,” said Kon. “They can pull over anyone on the road who they reasonably suspect who has committed or is about to commit a crime. The decision doesn’t change any of that.”