People v. Banks – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In People v. Banks, 217 NYLJ 123, June 27, 1997 at 27, col 3, the officers testified that they were conducting a "vertical building check" of a housing project.

This meant that they patrolled the building looking for individuals who according to their judgment did not belong in the building.

In the lobby of the building, the officers stopped and ultimately arrested the defendant for criminal trespass even though he claimed to be visiting someone in the building. After being unable to verify who that person was, the defendant was placed under arrest. When he was searched, the officers recovered fifteen vials of crack cocaine and twenty-four dollars.

In that case, the court held that nothing in defendant's behavior distinguished him from anyone else who might have been in the building.

The court further held there was no testimony of suspicious activity in the building, that the defendant was recognized as a person known not to belong in the building, or that it was unusual for someone to be in the stairwell area.

The Banks court went on to hold that in the absence of any objective basis for singling the defendant out from other legitimate residents or invitees there was no articulable basis for stopping the defendant and granted the motion to suppress.