Despite the firing of officers involved in the Michael DeHerrera beating, the Denver Police Department continues to be a criticism target. The latest example: an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit (read it below) filed on behalf of Jose Sanchez. Among other things, it alleges DPD biased policing and racial profiling.
The basics of the case, as laid out by the ACLU, are as follows:
Last July, the complaint maintains, Sanchez was visiting the home of his girlfriend, Joshinna Carreras, when he stepped outside to smoke a cigarette. He was speaking to someone in Spanish there when police officers approached and asked for his identification. When he said the ID card was in the house, they went inside with him, rather than allowing him to retrieve it and return, even though Carreras was in the shower at the time. When she emerged, the cops allegedly told her they'd been given permission to search her apartment -- an assertion the lawsuit disputes.
In the end, Carreras tracked down Sanchez's ID -- an employment authorization card issued by the Department of Homeland Security. However, officers decided it was phony and arrested Sanchez. He wound up lingering in jail for five days, losing his job in the process, before he was released. In the end, all charges were dropped.
Are incidents like this one common. "I think that's one of the things we're going to find out," says ACLU of Colorado legal director Mark Silverstein. "This is a case where officers treated our client as though he were a so-called illegal immigrant. They charged him with violating a Denver ordinance that forbids him from presenting false identification, even though the photo ID card he produced was a valid and current card issued by Homeland Security. They asked him, 'How many more of these do you have? What street corner did you buy this on?'"
This inability to recognize a valid federal ID "demonstrates that more and better training of Denver Police officers is necessary," Silverstein maintains. "If they're going to be making judgments on the validity of ID cards, they'd better be able to recognize one that's valid and authentic." He's also baffled why Sanchez was left behind bars for the better part of a week when "all the police would have had to do was send some kind of transmission to Homeland Security to check on the card. If they had, they would have found out within an hour that Jose Sanchez had been issued an employment verification card."
The bottom line for Silverstein? Denver cops "need to base their policing on evidence, not on stereotypes."
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