Joe Arpaio's Deputies Admit Destroying Evidence in Racial Profiling Lawsuit
|Nixon redux: Document shredding, deleted e-mails. What's next, secret tapes?|
In a stunning revelation recently made public as part of the ongoing federal civil rights lawsuit against the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an MCSO sergeant has admitted that the department has been destroying documents and e-mails directly related to the MCSO's anti-immigrant sweeps. This, despite numerous requests by the plaintiffs' lawyers for those documents and e-mails since the beginning of the Melendres v. Arpaio suit in December 2007.
During an October 27 deposition of Sgt. Manuel Madrid, a supervisor and founding member of the MCSO's infamous Human Smuggling Unit, Madrid admitted that he had been deleting e-mails related to the sweeps and shredding so-called "stat sheets" submitted by individual deputies and posse members. The Human Smuggling Unit takes the lead in all immigration raids and sweeps, and Madrid was one of those responsible for compiling data on the dragnets.
In that deposition, part of which was made public Friday in a massive 132-page motion by the plaintiffs seeking sanctions against the MCSO's defense, Madrid stated that the destruction of evidence continued at least till the recent October 16-17 sweep in Surprise. Below is a small excerpt from Madrid's questioning under oath by a lawyer for the plaintiffs:
Q. After the sweep from about two weeks ago, were you given stat sheets by the individual officers who participated?
Q. And do you still have them?
Q. What did you do with them?
A. I believe I shredded them.
Madrid made clear that he destroyed all stat sheets as a matter of course after collecting data from the sheets, which included information on stops made by sheriff's deputies, any criminal arrests, citations issued, and the number of hours the deputies worked. The stat sheets also included a section for notes by the deputies or posse members involved.
Those remarks are not collected by the MCSO, and so are now lost, thus damaging the plaintiffs' ability to prove that the department is racially profiling, which is the point of the lawsuit. Other pertinent information is lost when those stat sheets are shredded, as well as the ability to cross-reference them with the final MCSO reports.
Under oath, Madrid copped to deleting e-mails concerning the sweeps whenever his e-mail box got full. Madrid testified that he had never received an order from higher-ups instructing him to save requisite e-mails or to retain stat sheets.
Additionally, in a November 4 affidavit from Madrid's boss Lt. Joe Sousa, the Human Smuggling Unit's top dog, Sousa admits that after the information on the stat sheets was transferred to a "master data sheet," the stat sheets were "discarded."
Because each sweep has been performed by 100 to 200 deputies and posse members, and because there have been 13 sweeps so far, plaintiffs' lawyers estimate that "hundreds, if not thousands, of stat sheets would have been available to Plaintiffs but for Defendants' shredding of the documents."