ALBUQUERQUE (CN) — An immigration officer this week sued Bernalillo County, home to Albuquerque, saying sheriff’s officers pulled her over three times in a month for “driving while black.”
Sherese Crawford, a deportation officer with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement was on temporary assignment in New Mexico this spring from her home office in New York. She drove a rental car in Albuquerque, which she says, along with her race, may have been a factor in the Sheriff’s officers pulling her over to look for drugs or immigration violations.
She says she was pulled over three times on Interstate 40, between April 5 and May 3. All three times she says she was driving legally and was released without a ticket or even a warning, because she had broken no laws. Two times she was pulled over by the same officer, co-defendant Patrick Rael.
In her Tuesday complaint in Bernalillo County Court, Crawford says she contacted the Sheriff’s Department’s Internal Affairs Unit about the repeated stops by Officers Rael and co-defendant Officer Leonard Armijo, who’d pulled her over, but that “(d)espite the impossibility that BCSO’s repeated stops of Ms. Crawford, which resulted in no citations or warnings, were motivated by anything but race, BCSO’s Internal Affair Unit did not substantiate Ms. Crawford's allegations.”
She says this is a tacit acknowledgement that the sheriff’s department allows or encourages racial profiling.
“Racial profiling is neither effective nor informed and law enforcement is weakened when relying on it,” the complaint states. “Selective enforcement and the targeting of persons based solely on race does violence to our promise of equality; it is the ‘New Jim Crow.’”
Crawford seeks damages for unlawful seizures, negligence, and equal protection violations. The lead defendant is Bernalillo County.
She is represented by Laura Schauer Ives, with Kennedy, Kennedy & Ives, with assistance from attorneys with the ACLU Foundation of New Mexico.