On Jan. 8, the family of the late Uriel Juarez-Popoca, 22, filed a federal civil rights suit against the Delaware County Sheriff's Office, alleging that his death was a result of racial discrimination. An Ohio State Highway Patrolman was also named in the suit.
On July 28, 2012, deputies came upon a pick up truck parked on a grass median along Interstate 71.
Juarez-Popoca was inside the truck, in an obviously intoxicated state, according to deputies.
Communication was an issue, as the Mexican national spoke very little English.
Rather than arrest him, deputies decided to drive Juarez-Popoca to a nearby fast food restaurant off of the highway, so that he could call someone for a ride.
Sometime later, the drunken man wandered back onto the highway, where he was struck by a vehicle and killed.
The fatal accident occurred about 25 miles north of Columbus.
The man's family now claims deputies racially discriminated against him because the restaurant where he was dropped off was a Taco Bell, a "perverse joke" directed at the man's Mexican nationality, the suit alleges.
The Associated Press reported:
The Cincinnati lawyer representing Juarez-Popoca's family, prominent civil-rights attorney Al Gerhardstein, said that proceeds from any settlement in the lawsuit or a jury trial would go to the wife, two children and parents of Juarez-Popoca, who live just south of Mexico City and had become financially dependent on remittance checks they received from Juarez-Popoca, who worked various jobs.
Delaware County Deputies Christopher Hughes and Derek Beggs were actually fired over the incident, as was Highway Patrolman Sean Carpenter.
However, Carpenter appealed the decision and regained his job.
Patrolman Carpenter's attorney, Sam Shamansky, recently stated:
There's no discrimination here. If you ask me, it could just as easily be said that deputies were giving him a major break by not taking him to jail, maybe in order to not have discriminatory actions taken against him, vis-a-vis deportation."
The dollar amount of the suit has not been disclosed.