Sheriff Arpaio sued by Justice Department for racial profiling


Republican Presidential Candidate Herman Cain (R) speaks during a news conference with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio at Arpaio's headquarters October 17, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.


Joshua Lott

Sheriff Joe Arpaio from Arizona has long described himself as "America's Toughest Sheriff." But the US government has a less flattering description. The US Department of Justice is suing Arpaio for racial discrimination, retaliating against his critics and otherwise sloppy police work, according to the lawsuit.

Arpaio's critics have long accused him of targeting Latinos after Arizona passed SB 1070, the controversial anti-immigration bill.

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The 32-page lawsuit portrays his agency as poorly trained, the New York Times reported. It says that the agency's roughly 900 deputies have a “detain first, ask questions later” approach toward targeting Latinos, which has resulted in people with no arrest warrants against them ending up in detention.  

One of the more specific allegations in the lawsuit is that a sheriff's officer stopped a Latino woman who was a pregnant US citizen as she pulled into her own driveway. The officer demanded she sit on the hood of her car. "When she refused, the officer grabbed her arms, pulled them behind her back, and slammed her, stomach first, into the vehicle three times," the suit says, according to the BBC

Arpaio has previously come under fire recently for suggesting that Obama's birth certificate is a forgery and allegedly botching a sex crime case.

And he rose to notoriety by forcing inmates to wear pink underwear, the BBC said. 

The Justice Department has been investigating him for years and threatened to sue him last month, the Washington Post reported