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BernCo Sheriff’s Office sued for racial profiling

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A woman who was stopped three times in less than a month by Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office deputies has filed a lawsuit against the office and two deputies, saying that she was racially profiled.

Sherese Crawford, 38, wasn’t issued a traffic citation any of the times she was stopped. Crawford, who is black, lives in Richmond, Va., and was pulled over three times during a 28-day period in spring 2017 when she was working in Albuquerque as part of her job with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Deputies Leonard Armijo and Patrick Rael are defendants in the lawsuit.

Felicia Romero, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office, said the traffic stops did happen, but she declined to comment further.

All the traffic stops took place on Interstate 40 when Crawford was driving from the Cibola County Correctional Center to the ICE Field Office in Albuquerque. The lawsuit describes all three of the stops:

• On April 5, 2017, Armijo stopped Crawford, checked her license and rental car information, and let her leave without a warning or citation.

• On April 15, 2017, Rael stopped Crawford because, he said, she was tailgating, and he let her leave without a warning or citation.

• On May 3, 2017, Rael stopped Crawford again and said she was driving too slow. The deputy then walked back to his patrol car and left.

“Selective enforcement and the targeting of persons based solely on race does violence to our promise of equality; it is the ‘New Jim Crow,’ ” the lawsuit says.

The suit was filed in state District Court and seeks damages, as well as a policy change to prevent the Sheriff’s Office from racially profiling.

“These three incidents … clearly show that BCSO has an unconstitutional policy of racial profiling African-Americans,” said Laura Schauer Ives, ACLU of New Mexico cooperating attorney.

“It is impossible to imagine that these three stops in close succession with no warning or citation were motivated by anything other than our client’s race,” she said. “This kind of biased policing not only humiliates and frightens those whom it targets, but it divides communities and seriously damages public trust in law enforcement.”

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