United States v. Padilla, No. 07-5359-cr (2d Cir. December 2, 2008) (Raggi, Calabresi, CJJ, Keenan, DJ)
October is the cruellest month. That’s when a New York City detective recovered a gun from Hector Padilla’s waistband. Padilla was sentenced to 120 months’ imprisonment, the statutory maximum. On appeal, his principal challenge was to the stop-and-frisk.
The Terry Stop
The detective, who was on surveillance in a “high-crime” area, became suspicious when he saw Padilla and another person following a “skinny,” “disheveled” white male down a secluded wooded path. The officer thought either that the two men were planning to rob the disheveled man or that the three were going to engage in a drug deal together. The officer drove around the block; when he saw the three again they were on the other side of the path and appeared to be walking as a group. This did not dispel his suspicions. …