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Man who filed profiling suit against Arpaio speaks out

PHOENIX (AP) – A Mexican man who filed a racial profiling lawsuit that led to the worst legal defeats in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s career says he didn’t do anything that should have led to him being detained.

Until now, Manuel de Jesus Ortega Melendres has never spoken publicly about the incident that triggered the lawsuit.

But he told the Arizona Republic (http://bit.ly/2ivQGFI ) that he did nothing wrong to cause Arpaio’s officers to detain him and two other passengers in a truck in 2007 at a church where day laborers congregated.

The retired elementary school teacher handed over his tourist visa to officers, but he and the other passengers were detained. In the end, Ortega Melendres was held for about eight hours and released once he was finally examined by a federal immigration agent.

The judge presiding over the profiling case concluded that the stop was justified because an officer said the truck was speeding. But the judge also said a sheriff’s deputy didn’t have reasonable suspicion that Ortega Melendres and the other passengers were committing crimes.

The lawsuit led to a ruling three years ago that concluded Arpaio’s office had racially profiled Latinos in its immigration patrols. A judge ordered an overhaul of the sheriff’s office as a result of the verdict.

Arpaio, who was defeated in November after serving 24 years as sheriff, faces a criminal contempt-of-court charge for prolonging his immigration patrols for 17 months after the judge in the profiling case ordered them halted. Arpaio has acknowledged the contempt violation but said it wasn’t intentional.

Ortega Melendres has kept to himself for nine years. He didn’t testify at trial.

He said he was never a day laborer, but he went to Mass at the church. After filing the lawsuit, he would sometimes help clean the church and help volunteers at the church’s thrift shop.

Despite being the named plaintiff, Ortega Melendres hasn’t kept up with every development in the profiling case, but he does think about Arpaio.

“I think that man has to assume a new way, a new strategy and not to feel so powerful, so superb,” Ortega Melendres said. “No. He has to understand that things done from a humble, just perspective come out better.”

The sheriff’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment from the Republic. Arpaio’s office declined a subsequent request by The Associated Press for comment.

Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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