Jose Sanchez lawsuit: $30K settlement in racial profiling case includes new police training

handcuffs illustration.jpg
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Update: At a meeting last night, the Denver City Council approved a $30,000 payment to settle a lawsuit over alleged Denver Police racial profiling. Equally important, says the ACLU's Mark Silverstein, is a DPD agreement to improve training to try to prevent such incidents in the future.

Last July, according to a lawsuit on view below, Sanchez was at the home of his girlfriend, Carreras, when he stepped outside for a smoke -- and after Denver cops heard him speaking Spanish, they asked him for an ID. The one he gave them was an employment authorization card issued to him by the Department of Homeland Security under the provisions of his visa, which identified him as a non-citizen in the country legally and authorized to work. But the officers didn't recognize it and placed him under arrest. He wound up spending five days in jail and losing his job in the process -- and Silverstein points out that authorities didn't realize their error until after his release.

"Our client spent five days in jail because that's how long it took before he raised enough money to get out," he says. "The police didn't actually confirm that he had a valid ID until they began their internal investigation, which was prompted by an e-mail from City Councilman Paul Lopez. Apparently, our client's immigration lawyer had told the councilman about the case, and he made an inquiry. That's what prompted the investigation, and they quickly realized the card was current and valid."

Indeed, Silverstein believes that if the Denver Police had called Homeland Security immediately, rather than simply assuming the card was bogus, Sanchez "would have been out within an hour." However, that's not how the procedure worked. At the time, "police immediatelyi turned everything over to the prosecution."

That's changing as a result of the agreement prompted by the lawsuit. In the future, Silverstein says, "the police will initiate the conversation with the Department of Homeland Security to check on the validity or non-validity of the ID they think is false." In addition, the department will institute new training for Denver Police officers to help them better recognize valid Homeland Security IDs, as well as "to develop training for all officers on unconscious bias and best practices concerning bias policing that will specifically address people who speak English as a second language and people who are immigrants. Because that was another issue in this case. The police seemed too quick to jump to the conclusion that our client was a so-called illegal immigrant. When they saw the ID, they asked, 'How many more of these do you have? What street corner did you buy this at?'"

Silverstein praises the Denver City Attorney's Office for agreeing to put these new policies and training procedures in place, rather than dragging out the lawsuit, which was filed in March. He believes the settlement "sends a message to officers that they need to be careful in making judgments and jumping to conclusions. They need to base their actions and their arrests on evidence, not stereotypes."

Look below for our previous coverage.

Original post, 11:35 a.m. December 5: Tonight, Denver City Council will reportedly vote on a $30,000 settlement over a racial profiling lawsuit filed by Jose Sanchez and Joshinna Carreras. ACLU of Colorado's Mark Silverstein has agreed not to talk details until after the vote -- but here's how he described the case in our March post about the Sanchez suit.

Last July, as we noted, Sanchez was visiting the home of Carreras, his girlfriend, when he stepped outside to smoke a cigarette. According to the complaint, he was speaking to someone in Spanish when police officers approached and asked for his identification. When he said the ID card was in the house, they went inside with him, rather than allowing him to retrieve it and return, even though Carreras was in the shower at the time. When she emerged, the cops allegedly told her they'd been given permission to search her apartment -- an assertion the lawsuit disputes.

employment authorization card.jpg
A sample of an employment authorization card issued by the Department of Homeland Security.
In the end, Carreras tracked down Sanchez's ID -- an employment authorization card issued by the Department of Homeland Security. However, officers decided it was phony and arrested Sanchez. He wound up lingering in jail for five days, losing his job in the process, before he was released. In the end, all charges were dropped.

When we asked if such incidents are common, Silverstein said, "I think that's one of the things we're going to find out. This is a case where officers treated our client as though he were a so-called illegal immigrant. They charged him with violating a Denver ordinance that forbids him from presenting false identification, even though the photo ID card he produced was a valid and current card issued by Homeland Security. They asked him, 'How many more of these do you have? What street corner did you buy this on?'"

This inability to recognize a valid federal ID "demonstrates that more and better training of Denver Police officers is necessary," Silverstein told us. "If they're going to be making judgments on the validity of ID cards, they'd better be able to recognize one that's valid and authentic." Silverstein was also critical of the fact that Sanchez was left behind bars for the better part of a week when "all the police would have had to do was send some kind of transmission to Homeland Security to check on the card. If they had, they would have found out within an hour that Jose Sanchez had been issued an employment verification card."

Look for a future update on the council's actions. In the meantime, here's the lawsuit.

Jose Sanchez vs. City and County of Denver
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More from our News archive: "ACLU files claim against ICE for harassing U.S. citizens en route to Amway convention."

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25 comments
tearcollector
tearcollector

So they really do hire the dumbest cops. They couldn't recognize a Homeland ID? What else are they clueless about? This man lost his job because they were already convinced he was here illegally and didn't follow through w/their duties. That should make us all feel secure.

No, you don't have to have your ID if you're not driving. Especially if you're on PRIVATE property. Those that are agreeing w/the cops need to get a clue. It's too bad he's not suing them for more.

Silo44
Silo44

STUPIDITY AT ITS FINEST.

Sharpshooter
Sharpshooter

I can just see the training bulletin now: "When stopping a minority or beating a suspect, the officer MUST be aware of any HALO cameras in the area that might possibly incriminate him/her when he/she is falsifying their report. Also, be sure to falsely arrest any potential witnesses to the above mentioned activity, so that the officers word will be believed above any lowly "criminal" the judge might see trying to dispute claims of excessive force or wrongful arrest."

Fed up
Fed up

A legal citizen would be thankful. 

Too bad asking for legal citizenship is a crime.

Fed up
Fed up

If I were asked if I were born here and I did not have proof, I'd produce it asap.

No need for a lawsuit, if you are able to prove you are here legally.

John77056
John77056

this is a good way to make money in americas: claim racial profiling!

Guest
Guest

what this case also demonstrates is the DPD dedication to the tracking down of non-violent offenders, since violent criminals might hurt them they look for the lowest hanging easiest to pick off targets, the ones that surely won't shoot back, leaving the real criminals to roam the streets.

retchsweeny
retchsweeny

do you search for ways to display your ignorance, or do they just come naturally for you?

ClintJCL
ClintJCL

Are you kidding me? As a legal citizen, I am not required to carry id unless I was driving. If I was smoking a cigarette and a cop asked me to provide id, I would not be carrying one. You're saying you carry your id with you to go into your own yard? Really?  I'm fed up of dumb fucks like you who can't read an article.

ClintJCL
ClintJCL

He *DID*, dumbass! He provided proof that he was here legally. Can you read? Apparently you went straight to the comment box without reading the article?

ClintJCL
ClintJCL

'claim'? The guy was arrested for legally standing on private property and having a cigarette. What do you think profiling is? You can't demand id from people just for speaking a difference language. You can't demand id at all unless someone is driving. There is no legal requirement to carry id whatsoever. So yes, when you are arrested for a non-crime simply because you spoke a non-english language, that is profile. There is no "claim" here, that is exactly what happened.

RolloverRiderPGR
RolloverRiderPGR

HMMM so you only carry ID on your when driving? How about when walking down the street? Or maybe riding with someone else? OK, you only put it in your pocket when you drive and the rest of the time it's sitting on a dresser at home and you are walking down the street, riding with a friend, on an airplane, and you get shot, hit by a drive by, hit by a car, mugged and beaten half to death, crash land with in the AC killing a bunch of people and you or you are injured seriously by a tornado, earthquake or whatever and the police need to ID your conscious or dead arse but you only carry it when driving. Yep real smart for anyone not to carry their ID on their person. It just might not be a police officer profiling you but someone trying to save your life using your ID to find family or friends that can help you or tell them what medical problem you might have! I have never walked out of my house after getting dressed without my wallet in my pocket since 1966! Not only do I have proof that I am who I say I am I have something that holds my money and my information. It also holds several weapons in case of an attack that I can get away from allowing time to get it out.

Only children or fools do not carry ID and a case to carry it in on their person. Yes this is America but the world is changing and that wallet with ID can be your life saver! Grow up, get out of those stupid sweat clothes and become more than a target!

Lizzie Gowers
Lizzie Gowers

I've always been under the impression that even if you aren't driving--and not everyone drives, y'know--you need to have your ID on your person at all times. Y'know, just in case. Otherwise, you're screwed if you find yourself in a situation where you need it. Besides, I always kinda figured that the majority of people keep their ID/License in their wallets, and have their wallets on them at all times.

DayMan
DayMan

Being born in USA does not make you Native American. You like the majority of every others American is and was an immigrant at some point. That is Clint's point. I'm sure your country was pretty crappy when your past kin decided to move to America for a new hope.

Jrmelon91
Jrmelon91

That pretend exchange was kind of awkward; I'm not quite sure what your point is. And I was born here, Clint ol' bean. So, you see, I do belong here. 

ClintJCL
ClintJCL

Clint: Any members of your family ever died?Jrmelon91: My mom died in a car accident.Clint: Here's a point nobody can deny: If your mom had just stayed where she belonged, and by that I mean in the kitchen, none of this ever would have happened.

I assume you are native american, right? Otherwise, you don't belong here either. This stolen land. Hell, I'm only here because of Hitler.

Jrmelon91
Jrmelon91

Here's a point that nobody can deny- if the immigrant had just stayed where it belonged, and by that I mean his own country, none of this ever would have happened.

ClintJCL
ClintJCL

Either way, you smoking on private property is not probable cause to ask for an id, and you not having it is not an arrestable offense. I get that you are a sheep who wants to wear your sheep tags wherever you go so you don't stray from the flock. Fine. But that doesn't give teh shepard dogs the right to arrest you for nothing, or to ask to see your sheep tags when you haven't done anything. Then there's the fact that THIS GUY *DID* HAVE HIS ID.

You are telling me -- you get your wallet to check your mail? To take out your garbage?

ClintJCL
ClintJCL

Keeping a wallet in your pocket is bad for your back. Enjoy those problems when you get old - I already have some. Maybe we all should have bad backs to make it easier for police to accost us on our own property as we have a smoke. OH WAIT, the guy in this article DID have an id.

ClintJCL
ClintJCL

Also, your whole spiel is about what people SHOULD do. America is not a country of "should". Either something is legal, or it isn't. If it is legal to do X, then people should do X -- even if it's stupid -- in order to protect the legality of that right. It's a matter of privacy too. You don't even need id to travel on a plane!  http://flywithoutid.blogspot.c...

ClintJCL
ClintJCL

This guy *DID* have an id, so congratulations - you've argued against how this might happen to me, but you haven't submitted an argument about why this happened to the man in this article.

RolloverRiderPGR
RolloverRiderPGR

Your point is to be a fool and not have an ID on your person? In Missouri a state issued ID card is $11 dollars. Not hard to get IF you are a legal resident. There is NO reason that anyone doesn't have an ID because, if they get a check from the government how do they cash it? There is not a check cashing place or bank or liquor store or any place that will cash a check without an ID!  If they smoke or drink how do they get those items when you must show proof of age to buy them. If you need to take a flight you need an ID. yeah not every one drives or wants to but they can get an ID easier than a drivers license as there is no test involved.

If you ARE stopped by the police for any legal reason you should be able to prove who you are (if you lie to a police officer with a fake name thats as stupid as it goes as it's another charge on your arse and criminal record which if you didn't have one you darn sure have one now!)

And that disenfranchisement crap is just that, crap! There is NO ONE that can not afford an ID! They are good for 5 years and easy to get. If they are so poor that they can't afford one, go to the welfare department where you applied for a welfare check and your social worker can help you get one! BUT, if these "people who can't afford one" happen to drink alcohol or smoke or buy drugs then that is nothing but a sorry lie and excuse that they are "disenfranchised or poor!"  They can put down $11 worth of smokes, liquor and drugs and use it for that ID. And yes carring ID is convient to prove who you are or to give hospitals and emergency personnel your information to save your arse.

RolloverRiderPGR
RolloverRiderPGR

I don't have to "grab" my wallet. It's always in my pocket in a wallet from the time I put those pants on till I take them off at night and put them in the clothes hamper. The wallet and key ring, bandanna folded into pocket size and a knife all sit on the counter in the bathroom next to my closet so that as soon as those jeans (pants with a pocket) are put on those items go into their proper place in those pockets. Wallet in back, bandanna in other. Key ring in front and knife either in holster on belt or the other in pocket. (Gibbs rule #9 but my rule #3!) Oh the wind up watch on wrist and ink pen in shirt pocket or the small one in pants pocket if required. It's called being prepared for any emergency. But with society coming out now in sweat pants and easy to vacate clothing with no pockets to even put a cell phone in is what the future of the world thinks is good idea dressing!

ClintJCL
ClintJCL

So you keep your papers on your person at all time? Even when doing yard work or getting the mail?

It doesn't matter what your impression is. It's unconstitutional to demand people carry IDs. That's how Nazi Germany operated, but apparently WW2 was long enough ago that people are forgetting what the signs of an encroaching police state are.

Also -- this guy HAD an id, and it still didn't save him, did it?

Also, what about people who don't have driver's licenses? You do realize a lot of people in this country don't drive, and have no reason to have a driver's license, right? You think all those people you see walking and at the bus stops all have licenses? Do you honestly think that the government harassing people for not having id is a good use of police force in a country that touts freedom?

You need to reexamine why you think the things you think are convenient are. If you think carrying id is convenient because you will be subject to less police harassment, then please stop and think about the actual implications of that.

Arya Ponto
Arya Ponto

This guy was just stepping outside the door to smoke a cigarette. Do you actually believe the majority of people would go grab their wallet just to do that? Do you make sure you have an ID on you when you go take out the trash, too?

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