Keyon Harrison, an African American 16-year-old, was walking home from school when he saw another youth with a model truck and paused to look at it.  Grand Rapids police, who later claimed that two youth looking at a toy truck is so suspicious that it justifies a police investigation, stopped Keyon, took his picture, and fingerprinted him.  Even though Keyon did nothing more than admire a toy, his picture and fingerprints are now in a police database.  The Grand Rapids police have used this “photograph and print” procedure on about 1,000 people per year, many of whom are African American youth.  Keyon and Denishio Johnson, another African American youth who was similarly printed and photographed, sued to end the practice.  In 2017 the Court of Appeals issued a decision holding that the City of Grand Rapids could not be held liable because its policy only allowed, but did not require, the police to take photographs and fingerprints—a decision that would make it much harder to hold municipalities accountable for civil rights violations in state court.  The ACLU of Michigan took over direct representation in the case and appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court.  In 2018 the Supreme Court issued a major decision on municipal liability in favor of our clients, holding that cities can be held liable for authorizing unconstitutional conduct by their employees.  The case was then remanded, and in 2019 the Court of Appeals ruled that forcing someone to provide their fingerprints is not a search under the Fourth Amendment.  We appealed again, and in February 2021 the Michigan Supreme Court announced that they would hear the case.  Oral argument is scheduled for November 2021. 

(Johnson v. VanderKooi; ACLU of Michigan Attorneys Miriam Aukerman and Dan Korobkin; National ACLU Attorneys Nathan Freed Wessler and Ezekiel Edwards; Cooperating Attorneys Margaret Hannon, Ted Becker, and David Moran of U-M Law School.)

 

Status

Pending