High Court Rules That Police Interference With a Bicyclist is a Seizure Requiring Reasonable Suspicion of a Criminal Offense of Probable Cause of a Vehicle and Traffic Law Violation
Mr. Rodriguez was riding his bicycle down a road in Queens when several police officer drove alongside him and twice asked him to stop. Mr. Rodriguez complied. In response to a police inquiry, he acknowledged he was carrying a gun.
At a suppression hearing, the defense argued there was an unlawful seizure. The prosecution claimed the stop was lawful because Mr. Rodriguez had been bicycling down the middle of the road in a “somewhat reckless” fashion, he had only one hand on the handlebars, and he was holding “something” with his left hand over his pants. After the suppression court denied suppression, finding there was no seizure and there was “founded suspicion” for the stop, Mr. Rodriguez pled guilty to weapon possession.
The Court of Appeals reversed the conviction and dismissed the indictment. Ruling that the stop of a bicyclist is a seizure under both the federal and state constitutions, the Court found that bicyclists are protected from unwarranted government intrusions to the same extent as motorists. The police lack authority to stop a bicycle absent reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or probable cause that the bicyclist violated the rules of the road.
Hannah Kon represented Mr. Rodriguez