Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) violated the constitutional rights of Latino drivers during a crackdown on illegal immigration, according to a federal judge’s ruling on Friday.
Arpaio, known as a very hardline sheriff, was ordered to stop using race as a factor in future law enforcement decisions. The ruling fame in response to a class-action lawsuit filed by Hispanic drivers.
US District Court Judge Murray Snow ruled on Friday that Arpaio’s policies violated the constitutional rights of the drivers. The office must cease using race or ancestry as a grounds to stop, detain, or hold drivers and other occupants.
Five drivers brought the lawsuit against Arpaio and his office, claiming that they were stopped by deputies because of their ethnicity. Arpaio denied the claims, but the judge sided with the drivers.
Arpaio testified last year during the non-jury trial, saying that he was against racial profiling. He also denied his office arrested people because of the color of their skin. But in a written ruling, Snow stated:
“The great weight of the evidence is that all types of saturation patrols at issue in this case incorporated race as a consideration into their operations.”
The suit alleged that “America’s toughest sheriff” and his officers violated the rights of US citizens and legal immigrants in their quest to crack down on those they believed were in the country illegally. The plaintiffs included the Somos America immigrants’ rights coalition, along with all Latino drivers stopped by Arpaio’s office since 2007.
Tim Casey, a lawyer for Joe Arpaio’s office, stated of the ruling, “The MCSO is disappointed by the outcome in this decision. The MCSO’s position is that it has never used race and will never use race in making its law-enforcement decisions.”
While Joe Arpaio can appeal the decision, Casey stated that the department will instead work internally to remedy any issues raised in the ruling. Casey added, “The sheriff respects the court and its authority and it will comply.” Rather than seeking monetary damages, the lawsuit sought corrective action.
[Image via Gage Skidmore]