Suit: Cops Left Hispanic Drunk Guy at Taco Bell
Uriel Juarez-Popoca was subsequently killed by a car
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jan 20, 2014 11:30 AM CST
A Taco Bell restaurant in Richmond, Va.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

(Newser) – When Ohio police responded to reports of a drunk driver who had pulled over on the side of the road, they inexplicably took the 22-year-old Hispanic man to a Taco Bell five miles away and left him there. Soon after, he was walking on the highway when he was hit by a car and killed. Now, local authorities are facing a federal civil rights lawsuit over what Uriel Juarez-Popoca's family calls a "perverse joke" by police about Juarez-Popoca's Mexican roots. The family, represented by a leading civil-rights lawyer, is suing the Delaware County Sheriff's office, as well as individual officers, including a state highway patrolman.

"This stands out as a truly outrageous failure by local law enforcement to do their basic duty of holding people safely," lawyer Al Gerhardstein tells the AP, calling it "a tragic joke." The Columbus Dispatch last month reported that officers were recorded laughing at the man's poor English and suggesting someone at Taco Bell would be able to speak with him. But a lawyer for the patrolman says Juarez-Popoca, whose legal status in the US is unclear, got a "major break" when officers didn't jail him. Police say they thought he would call for a ride after they dropped him off. Two deputies involved were fired for a "lack of maturity and professionalism"; both also paid fines amid criminal charges. The patrolman was fired and charged but got his job back following an appeal.

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Showing 3 of 75 comments
Jan 21, 2014 6:54 PM CST
He was running for the border.
Jan 21, 2014 11:42 AM CST
Cops getting fired? Finally an uplifting story on newser
Jan 21, 2014 9:14 AM CST
For all the previous commenters who somehow think the fault is the drunk person being an "Idiot" : Drunk people, no matter their IQ when sober, CAN NOT be trusted to make intelligent decisions. Doesn't anyone understand the idea that alcohol effects the ability to make good judgements so it should not be a surprise that the "drunk Mexican" did stupid things that caused harm. While his death was extremely unfortunate he could have just as easily gone through a cars windshield when hit causing even more deaths, which the cops would also have been responsible for causing. . The professionally trained law enforcement officials should know and perform their duty no matter how comical they found the drunk individual.