Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been sued by the federal government for civil rights violations, National Public Radio reports. The lawsuit was filed by the Justice Department.
They accuse Arpaio of "violating the civil rights of Latino drivers and inmates in the county jail." Among the allegations, Justice Department lawyers say the sheriff pulled over Latino drivers for no reason. They also claim he retaliated against judges and lawyers critical of him and gave no services to non-English-speaking inmates.
Arpaio isn't going down quietly though. He's fired back with choice words regarding the suit.
"I'm not going to give up my authority to the federal government. It's as simple as that," Arpaio said.
Justice Department officials have been investigating the sheriff's organization for some time. They had been seeking an agreement from Arpaio requiring his office train officers to make constitutional traffic stops. They also wanted him to assure Latinos in his county that they'd be protected.
The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects against unwarranted searches and seizures. Additionally, in regards to traffic stops, police must have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity before pulling citizens over.
The lawsuit also seeks a court order preventing Maricopa County cops from engaging in any more discriminatory practices. Arpaio's county is the largest in Arizona, containing over 3.8 million residents.
The self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America has disputed the Justice Department's findings. He claims the inquiry was a politically motivated attack by the Obama administration.
However, Sheriff Joe Arpaio seems eager to confront the lawsuit head on. "If they sue, we'll go to court," he said.
- U.S. Rights Lawsuit Filed Against Ariz. Sheriff Joe Arpaio (USA Today)
- Feds File Civil Complaint Against Sheriff Joe Arpaio (FindLaw's Courtside)
- Traffic Stop Legal Guide (FindLaw)