'Perp Walk' Told To Take A Hike

A federal judge says that "Perp walks'', the age-old practice of parading suspected criminals past news cameras, are unconstitutional when they serve no law enforcement purpose.

U.S. District Judge Allen G. Schwartz ruled Thursday that a New York City doorman who was "perp walked'' before television cameras in 1995 can proceed with a lawsuit against the city.

John Lauro Jr. had been accused of burglarizing an apartment he was watching for a tenant, a charge that eventually was dismissed when Lauro agreed to perform community service for a day.

The perp walk - perp is short for perpetrator - humiliated Lauro, helped the media sensationalize the case and allowed a detective to appear on television, Schwartz said.

"Indeed, it is difficult to imagine what possible law enforcement purpose could be served by taking an individual out of police custody, driving him around the block and bringing him back into the police precinct,'' he wrote in his decision.

The judge found that the perp walk violated the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

Police spokesman Inspector Michael Collins says the department hadn't decided if it will appeal.

Lauro's lawyer, Philip J. Dinhofer, said his client's life was ruined by the publicity. "He lost his job. His union abandoned him, his life was literally destroyed by this.''