Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office guilty of racial profiling, judge says


(FILES) Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio speaks with a reporter outside city jail in this May 3, 2010, file photo.



A federal judge ruled late Friday that controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office unfairly targeted Hispanics in raids and traffic stops as part of his signature immigration patrols.

U.S. District Judge Murray Snow issued the ruling more than eight months after a seven-day, non-jury trial on the issue.

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Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, was sued by a group of Hispanic drivers in Arizona who claimed his deputies relied on race to stop drivers.

"For too long the sheriff has been victimizing the people he's meant to serve with his discriminatory policy," Cecillia D. Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants' Right Project, told The Associated Press. "Today we're seeing justice for everyone in the county."

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Arpaio has denied the allegations, and his attorney vowed to appeal the decision.

The sheriff's office "has never used race and will never use race in its law-enforcement decisions", defense attorney Tim Casey told BBC News.

In the meantime, the ruling prohibits the sheriff’s office from using “race or Latino ancestry” as a factor in traffic stops and other law enforcement decision.

Arpaio, who turns 81 next month, is serving his sixth consecutive term as sheriff in Arizona's most populous county.