Massachusetts’ highest court ruled that the police cannot stop and frisk a Black man simply because he flees from them.

On Tuesday, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court threw out the gun conviction of Jimmy Warren, based in part on an American Civil Liberties Union report and Boston Police data that found racial bias in police stops, WBUR reports.

Five years ago, the Boston police arrested Warren while they were investigating a break-in. They were searching for three Black men. The suspects’ descriptions were based on their clothes: a red hoodie, black hoodie, and dark clothing.

When an officer approached Warren and another man, who were both wearing dark clothes, they fled. The police found nothing on Warren when they caught him. But they recovered an unlicensed pistol nearby.

WBUR said the court issued two major findings in its ruling.

First, the fact that Warren fled didn’t justify a police stop. Moreover, a vague description and a hunch were not enough—scores of Black men could have fit the dark clothing description in Warren’s case.

Second, the justices underscored that state law gives individuals a right to walk away from the police if they are not under arrest.



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