U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin called it "indirect racial profiling" because it targeted racially defined groups, resulting in the disproportionate and discriminatory stopping of tens of thousands of blacks and Hispanics while the city highest officials "turned a blind eye," she said.
"No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life," Scheindlin wrote in her opinion.
But Bloomberg stood his ground. "People also have a right to walk down the street without being killed or mugged," he said at a news conference, repeating his conviction that the program resulted in a drastic reduction in crime that made New York the "poster child" for safe U.S. cities.
As part of her ruling, Scheindlin ordered the appointment of an independent monitor and other immediate changes to police policies. Her "remedies" address two lawsuits, one brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and the other by the Center for Constitutional Rights.
"Today is a victory for all New Yorkers," the Center for Constitutional Rights said in a statement. "After more than 5 million stops conducted under the current administration, hundreds of thousands of them illegal and discriminatory, the NYPD has finally been held accountable. It is time for the city to stop denying the problem and work with the community to fix it."
Bloomberg told reporters his administration will appeal her ruling. That will take place as soon as the monitor makes any kind of request, at which time the city will seek an immediate stay pending the outcome of the appeal, said Corporation Council Michael Cardozo.
Bloomberg has resisted interference in his police policies, especially that of stopping, questioning and frisking anyone for "reasonable suspicion" in high-crime areas.
The mayor has sought to preserve a legacy that includes a 30 percent reduction in violent crime since 2001, the year he was first elected. Bloomberg will leave office on January 1 after 12 years in office.
The judge, who presided over the 9-week trial without a jury, ruled the effectiveness of "stop and frisk" was irrelevant.
"Many police practices may be useful for fighting crime -preventive detention or coerced confessions, for example - but because they are unconstitutional, they cannot be used, no matter how effective," the ruling said.
Police officers felt pressure to increase the number of stops after Bloomberg took office in January 2002 and brought in Raymond Kelly to be NYPD commissioner, the judge wrote.
As a result, officers often frisked young minority men for weapons or searched their pockets for contraband before letting them go, in a violation of the Constitution's Fourth Amendment that protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, the judge said in her 195-page decision.
RISING NUMBER OF POLICE STOPS
The number of stops rose to 685,724 in 2011 from 160,851 in 2003, with about half resulting in physical searches, a 2012 report by the New York Civil Liberties Union showed.
In 2011, there were more frisk searches of young black men than the number of these men living in the city, the report found.
Only 1.8 percent of blacks and Latinos searched by the police in 2011 had weapons on them, compared with 3.8 percent of whites, the NYCLU report said.
Bloomberg and Kelly countered that the practice has driven down violent crime and limited the number of illegal guns being carried on the streets.
Homicides fell from 649 in 2001 to 419 in 2012, the lowest number since records have been kept. Other major felonies have fallen by similar proportions.
The judge selected as the monitor Peter Zimroth, 70, a partner at Arnold & Porter who worked as the city's top lawyer from 1987 to 1989.
Scheindlin said Zimroth's powers would be restricted to overseeing changes to stop and frisk and will not supplant those of the police commissioner.
The judge also ordered the NYPD to adopt a written policy specifying circumstances where stops are authorized; adopt a trial program requiring the use of body-worn cameras in one precinct in each of the city's five boroughs; and to set up a community-based remedial process under a court-appointed facilitator.
The city council also has defied Bloomberg by passing two laws in June. One creates an independent inspector general to monitor the Police Department, and the other expands the definition of racial profiling and allows people who believe they have been profiled to sue police in state court.
NYPD: Names of innocent to be erased from stop-and-frisk records
The New York City Police Department has agreed to clear its database of people who were stopped under the controversial stop-and-frisk practice but were cleared of criminal wrongdoings, according to the settlement issued Wednesday in the New York Supreme Court.
In a move to settle the state lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union in 2010, the NYPD has agreed to erase the database within 90 days.
"Though much still needs to be done, this settlement is an important step towards curbing the impact of abusive stop and frisk practices," said Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of the NYCLU and lead plaintiffs' counsel in the case.
Information to be cleared from the electronic database includes names and addresses of all people who have been stopped, arrested or issued a summons in castes that were later dismissed or resolved with a noncriminal violation.
In July 2010, a state law was enacted prohibiting the NYPD from keeping a computer database of the names and personal information of people who were unjustly stopped, questioned or frisked by police officers and were neither arrested nor issued a summons.
"The NYPD had been in full compliance with the relevant legislation since it was passed in 2010. Accordingly, there was no practical reason to continue this litigation," said Paul Browne, deputy police commissioner.
One of the lead plaintiffs in the case, Clive Lino, was stopped more than once and was issued summonses that were later dismissed.
"It is a relief to know that my personal information will be cleared from the stop-and-frisk database," said Lino.
Lino, who is black, has been stopped at least 13 times by NYPD officers, according to the NYCLU.
"It is humiliating enough to be stopped and frisked for no reason, having your name and address kept in a police database only prolongs the indignity of it," he said.
The controversial method in which police stop, question and possibly search those they consider suspicious is used to deter crime, the police department has said.
"New Yorkers who are the victims of unjustified police stops will no longer suffer the further injustice of having their personal information stored indefinitely in an NYPD database," said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman.
The NYPD database will only erase records of those who were cleared of any wrongdoing, but will continue to maintain details of all other aspects of police stops.
There is also a federal class-action lawsuit that is still in the hands of a judge. The lawsuit claims that police officers routinely stop minority men, particularly black and Latino men, without legal reasons.
It also seeks to reform stop-and-frisk under the supervision of a court-appointed monitor.