RAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — The practice of fingerprinting people without probable cause or a warrant is unconstitutional, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The court unanimously ruled that the Grand Rapids police violated the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

“The fingerprints of each of the plaintiffs in these cases constituted a physical intrusion into a person’s body, a constitutionally protected area,” Judge Richard Bernstein wrote.

The incidents involved two black teenagers in 2011 and 2012, although the American Civil Liberties Union said photos and fingerprints were taken of thousands of people in Grand Rapids.

“The policy has enabled decades of racial profiling, police abuse and threats to privacy,” said Dan Korobkin, legal director for the ACLU in Michigan.

Denishio Johnson was arrested after driving through the parking lot of a fitness club where vehicles had been stolen.

Keyon Harrison was arrested after handing over a model train engine to someone. He said it was part of a school project. Johnson and Harrison were photographed and fingerprinted but were not charged with any crimes.

They then sued the Grand Rapids police.

“The fingerprints in these cases were not reasonably related to the circumstances that warranted either stop,” said Bernstein.

Grand Rapids dropped the practice. But he had championed fingerprints as a way to determine someone’s identity when they didn’t have identification. The police also took photos.



Today’s breaking news and more to your inbox