See also: Joe Arpaio's Racial Profiling Trial Begins, and, Yes, He's Guilty as Sin See also: Joe Arpaio Racial-Profiling Trial Draws Protestors' Calls for Justice on Opening Day See also: Joe Arpaio's Racial Profiling Case Costs County Close To $1 Million, So Far
In the law-enforcement experience of Maricopa County Sheriff's Deputy Louis DiPietro, most day laborers are undocumented, and usually are from Mexico or Central America.
That was the deputy's testimony in the American Civil Liberties Union's big Melendres v. Arpaio racial profiling case, which kicked off today at the Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. Courthouse.
"From you're experience most day laborers are undocumented?" ACLU lawyer Andre Segura asked DiPietro.
The deputy simply answered, "Yes."
Seems pretty cut and dry, evidence of the prejudiced policing at issue in the trial. But not to Tom Liddy, a lawyer with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office and part of the legal team defending Sheriff Joe in the five year-old case.
"He did not say that," insisted Liddy outside the federal courthouse after the day's proceedings. "He most certainly did not."
Spinning like dervish in a thunderstorm, Liddy offered an alternative interpretation of DiPietro's monosyllabic response.
"[DiPietro] said in his experience, obviously as a law enforcement officer, when he came in contact with day laborers in those operations...[they] were undocumented migrants," Liddy stated. "[But] he most certainly did not say that he had an assumption that all day-laborers are illegals."
DiPietro's racial assumptions are important. In September 2007, the MCSO's infamous Human Smuggling Unit was conducting an operation in Cave Creek near a church parking lot where day laborers were accustomed to gather looking for work.
Manuel de Jesus Ortega Melendres, a plaintiff in the case, was at the parking lot and needed a ride to Scottsdale, according to the complaint.
A friend arranged a ride with a white male in a pick-up truck.
The HSU observed Melendres, 53, get in the vehicle with three other men. Almost immediately, DiPietro was ordered by the unit to follow the truck and look for probable cause to stop it.