A partner from Patton Boggs met with senior Justice Department officials on Thursday to discuss what the firm alleges is a pattern of abuse and harassment of minorities who live in Prince William County, Va.
In July 2007, the county approved a resolution that requires police to check the immigration status of suspects arrested for crimes. The resolution is similar to the controversial Arizona immigration law. Since then, Latino activists have reported several racial profiling charges by Prince Williams County police according to Cesar Perales, president and general counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF.
“The DOJ must act on its responsibility to protect the Latino residents of Prince William County, Arizona, and all of the other localities and states in the nation that are considering passing similar laws and ordinances,” said Perales in a statement.
Patton Boggs partner Christina Sarchio said there were at least four examples of police using excessive force, including a case in which police allegedly used the pretext of a truancy summons to find out more about a Latino family.
“In order to get this Latino family in line, they used excessive force and drummed up charges against the parents that were eventually thrown out,” Sarchio said. “This incident still haunts the family and even youngest child, now 7, has a great fear of the police.”
A lawsuit, filed in a federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia in November, alleged that an officer went to the home of Juan and Esperanza Guerrero and forced his way in even though the resident he was looking for didn’t live there. Four other officers arrived and dragged Esperanza out of the home and arrested her and pepper sprayed her husband, the lawsuit alleges.
The charges were dismissed in court, which found that the officers entry into the home was unlawful.
A Justice Department spokesman confirmed the meeting, which he said was requested by those representing the families who are suing.