Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle v. Baltimore Police Department, No. 20-1495 (4th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs moved to enjoin implementation of the Aerial Investigation Research (AIR) program, a first-of-its-kind aerial surveillance program operated by the Baltimore Police Department and Commissioner Michael Harrison. While appeal was pending, the program completed its pilot run and the program was not renewed. After deleting the bulk of the AIR data, defendants moved to dismiss the appeal as moot.
On rehearing en banc, the court concluded that the appeal presents a live controversy and is not moot. Plaintiffs sought to enjoin defendants' access to any data collected by the AIR program, and defendants retain the data that proved fruitful. In this case, plaintiffs have a concrete, legally cognizable interest in freezing the police department's access to images, which were obtained only by recording plaintiffs' movements and in which they may still appear.
On the merits, the court concluded that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their Fourth Amendment claim and the remaining Winter factors counsel in favor of preliminary relief. The court applied Carpenter v. United States, 138 S. Ct. 2206 (2018), concluding that the AIR program enables police to deduce from the whole of individuals' movements, and thus accessing its data is a search, and its warrantless operation violates the Fourth Amendment. The court reversed the denial of plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction and remanded for further proceedings.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on November 5, 2020.