A “hunch” was not a constitutionally justifiable basis on which to stop a car in Brooklyn, an Eastern District judge ruled Friday in a decision questioning the veracity of the three New York City officers who made the stop. The officers’ hunch that the car was an unlicensed livery cab was based on factors that would expose “many innocent travelers to near-random searches,” Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis wrote in United States v. Bristol, 10-cr-36.

The ruling ordered the suppression of a loaded nine-millimeter semi-automatic pistol seized from Devon Bristol after the car was stopped. Mr. Bristol, who had previously been convicted of attempted robbery and possession of a weapon, was prosecuted under a federal law making it a crime for a person who had been convicted of a felony to possess a firearm. He faced a maximum sentence of 10 years if convicted under the statute, 18 U.S.C. §922(g)(1).

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