Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona Faces Racial Profiling Allegations (Photo : Reuters)
Maricopa, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio will have his day in court, as he faces allegations of racially profiling Hispanics.
Sheriff Arpaio, for years, denied any type of discrimination and profiling of Hispanics in his state of Arizona, which has been controversy for its immigration issues and the SB1070.
Like Us on Facebook
Plaintiffs in the case reported that Arpaio's officers based some traffic stops based on drivers being Hispanics, had no probable cause to pull them over and made the stops so they could inquire about their immigration status.
The plaintiffs aren't seeking money damages and instead are seeking a declaration that Arpaio's office racially profiles and an order that requires it to make changes to prevent what they said is discriminatory policing.
Arpaio has declined to comment on the case.
The lawsuit is the first case in which a sheriff's office has been accused of racially profiling Hispanics. The US Department of Justice has also filed similar civil rights charges against Arpaio back in May, following a three-year investigation concluding the sheriff's immigration policies are biased and unconstitutional.
The sheriff was previously sued five years ago on the for his immigration enforcement policy.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the immigrant and civil rights groups that filed the lawsuit are prepared with an "impressive array of evidence," including departmental communications and testimony. Some of the plaintiffs are reportedly willing to describe Arpaio's "so-called" crime sweeps in targeted Hispanic neighborhoods due to their immigration status based on nothing more than their appearance.
Some of the plaintiffs include US citizens Manuel Nieto and Velia Meraz, both ready to testify on how they were pulled over and handcuffed at gunpoint in the middle of the day for "no apparent reason other than that Meraz was singing along to Spanish-language music" when they passed a deputy.
Other cases of alleged racial profiling and discrimination include a Hispanic motorist being stopped for failing to use his turn signal and jailed for 13 days for failing to provide proper identification, even though he provided multiple documents sufficient to satisfy Arizona law.
The jury-less trial is expected to last until early August, and will be under US District Judge Murray Snow. If Arpaio loses the civil case, he won't face jail time or fines.