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Civil rights lawsuit filed against Ariz. sheriff

May 11, 2012 • National News


Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, left, is joined by his two attorneys Joseph Popolizio, middle, and John Masterson, as they answer questions regarding the Department of Justice announcing a federal civil lawsuit against Sheriff Arpaio and his department, during a news conference Thursday, May 10, 2012, in Phoenix. According to the Department of Justice, after months of negotiations failed to yield an agreement to settle allegations that the sheriff’s department racially profiled Latinos in his trademark immigration patrols, the lawsuit was filed.(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX (AP) — As defiant as ever, get-tough Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio faces a federal court showdown over charges that deputies on his trademark immigration patrols racially profiled Latinos in violation of civil rights law.

After months of negotiations failed to reach a settlement over the allegations, the U.S. Justice Department took the rare step Thursday of suing.

“We have invariably been able to work collaboratively with law enforcement agencies to build better departments and safer communities,” Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez said.

Arpaio and his department “have been a glaring exception,” said Perez, who heads the civil rights division.

The main issue that caused talks to break down last month was federal officials’ insistence that Arpaio agree to a court-appointed monitor for the department. Arpaio objected, saying it would undermine his authority.

“I am not going to surrender my office to the federal government,” a visibly angry Arpaio said at an afternoon news conference. “I will fight this to the bitter end.”

The lawsuit means that a federal judge will decide the escalating, long-standing dispute.

The Justice Department, which had been investigating Arpaio on civil rights allegations for more Login to read more

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