The suit filed by the Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union and a local law firm used Police Department statistics to show that police stopped 253,333 pedestrians in 2009, 72 percent of whom were African American.
But only 8 percent of the stops led to an arrest, and typically that was for "criminal conduct that was entirely independent from the supposed reason for the stop," according to the suit.
Among those stopped and frisked after exhibiting no criminal behavior was Mahari Bailey, a 27-year-old married lawyer with one child and another on the way who has had it happen four times.
"You try to do the right thing - you go to school, work hard, and better yourself - and you're treated the same as a criminal," Bailey told the Daily News.
Former police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson warned before he left that job that stop-and-frisk could be a "disaster" if it isn't carried out so it won't increase animosity between the police and minority communities.
It's a delicate balance. Many neighborhoods desperate to reduce crime welcome a stronger police presence. But they also don't want residents to be wrongfully profiled just because two or three are together on the street or are in a car that police think only a drug dealer could afford.
The lawsuit accuses Nutter and Ramsey of "indifference" in failing to properly train, supervise, and discipline officers. That seems to go too far. Ramsey has consistently shown he is more than willing to root out misbehavior and get rid of corrupt cops.
But he and Nutter can't have a blind spot about stop-and-frisk procedures. It was disappointing that mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald would contend that since police-abuse complaints have not gone up, stop-and-frisk must be working just fine.
You don't have to use a billy club on a man to violate his civil rights. You don't even have to arrest him. It violates a person's civil rights to be made to feel that by virtue of being a particular race or ethnicity, he is subject to being stopped anywhere, anytime, and searched by police.
Mayor Nutter, as an African American man, has said before that he knows what it's like to be racially profiled. That should mean he will work harder to ensure that when police stop people, it's for a justifiable reason.