Sheriff Arpaio Faces More Civil Rights Suits

     PHOENIX (CN) – Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio faces two more civil rights lawsuits. The ACLU says America’s Toughest – and most-sued – Sheriff violated the constitutional rights of two men during an immigration raid, and a police sergeant says Arpaio maliciously prosecuted him after the sergeant’s police dog died.

     Julian Mora, a U.S. resident, and his son Julio Mora, a U.S. citizen, were forced out of their truck, zip-tied and arrested during a workplace raid, the men claim in Federal Court.
     The Moras were arrested outside of Handyman Maintenance, Julian’s employer. They were handcuffed and held at the workplace for three hours and not allowed to talk to other employees, drink water, eat food or use the bathroom, they say.
     Julian, a diabetic, said he was forced to tell deputies that “he would have to urinate right in front of everyone” to get them to allow him to relieve himself.
     The sheriff’s office “had no probable cause or even reasonable suspicion” to believe that the Moras were illegally in the country – but used racial profiling to pull them over, the ACLU says.
     In his Superior Court complaint, Chandler Police Sgt. Thomas Lovejoy says he was charged with animal abuse because Arpaio pressured the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to pursue the case.
     Lovejoy says he inadvertently left Bandit, his Belgian Malinois police dog, in his SUV on Aug. 11, 2007 after they worked on an overtime assignment together. After the shift, Bandit fell asleep in his kennel in the back of the SUV and Lovejoy was struck by a series of family crises and errands in the morning. He did not return to the vehicle until the evening, when he went to grab his gear, he says.
     He found Bandit dead inside the SUV. Lovejoy says that when he reported the death to his commander, he was assured that the Chandler Police would not perform a criminal investigation because there was “no evidence of any requisite criminal intent.” The Chandler Police issued a statement to the public, saying that Lovejoy had not “violated any animal abuse statutes” so there would only be an internal investigation.
     Within days, however, Sheriff Arpaio claimed jurisdiction “because the Lovejoy residence sat on a small, unincorporated island,” and launched a month-long high-profile criminal investigation of Lovejoy, according to the complaint.
     Lovejoy says Bandit’s death gave Arpaio the “opportunity to publicly attack another police agency or another law enforcement officer in a high-profile case that guarantees much media attention,” despite lack of evidence that Lovejoy intended to hurt the dog.
     Lovejoy claims that at least three Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office dogs have died “under unusual circumstances” since 2000, but the department did not conduct internal or criminal investigations in any of the deaths.
     Arpaio scheduled a press conference to announce Lovejoy’s arrest for animal cruelty before the arrest happened, and told attendees that “Lovejoy was ‘behind bars’ and that he could be charged with a felony” – a staged effort to garner more media attention, Lovejoy says.
     According to the complaint, the animal cruelty charges were dropped against Lovejoy on Aug. 15, 2008. He seeks damages for conspiracy, false arrest and malicious prosecution. He is represented by Michael Manning with Stinson Morrison & Hecker.

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