We filed a lawsuit on behalf of Sherese Crawford, a 38-year-old African-American woman on temporary assignment in New Mexico as an Immigration and Customs Agent (ICE) deportation officer. The lawsuit alleges that Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) deputies racially profiled her by pulling her over three times, twice by the same deputy, within a month with no probable cause or reasonable suspicion that she was breaking the law. None of the three times she was pulled over was she given a warning or a citation.
The first profiling incident occurred on April 5, 2017 as Ms. Crawford was driving through Bernalillo County on I-40 from the Cibola County Correctional Center to the regional ICE office in Albuquerque. BCSO Deputy Armijo stopped Ms. Crawford, claiming that he had searched a database for her license plate number and the license plate had come back as a “skip plate,” indicating that the vehicle might be stolen. This is a highly unlikely claim given that Ms. Crawford was driving a rental car provided by ICE. During this stop, Deputy Armijo required her to exit the vehicle and walk with him to his patrol unit. After this incident, Ms. Crawford contacted an ICE supervisor in Albuquerque to complain about the pretextual traffic stop, and the ICE supervisor advised her that the sheriff’s deputy had likely stopped her because she fit a profile: an African-American in a rental car.
The second and third stops were made on April 15, and May 3 by Deputy Patrick Rael. In the April 15th stop, Deputy Rael pulled her over for allegedly tailgating. When he examined Ms. Crawford’s license, he recognized her name and asked her if they had pulled her over the week before. He said he remembered Ms. Crawford’s name because an ICE officer and sheriff’s deputy present at the first stop had said that she had an “attitude.” Two weeks later, Deputy Rael pulled over Ms. Crawford for a third time alleging she was driving “too slow.”
The ACLU of New Mexico is requesting damages on behalf of Ms. Crawford, as well as any policy changes that the court deems necessary to prevent further racial profiling by BCSO.