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Police deny suit's accusations of no-cause stops, detentions

April 12, 2001

ROGERS, Ark. (AP) -- The Rogers Police Department has denied claims made in a suit accusing the agency of illegally stopping and detaining Hispanics because of their ethnicity.

The filing Wednesday in federal court at Fayetteville was in response to a suit filed March 23 by three Rogers residents. The suit claims that police routinely stop Hispanic motorists without cause, ask them for immigration papers and detain them until federal immigration agents arrive.

Gary Kennan of Bentonville and Joe Berra of the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, attorneys for the plaintiffs, are seeking class-action status for the suit.

In the suit, Miguel and Nora Virginia Lopez say police stopped their vehicle last July, searched it and asked them to produce immigration papers. The Lopezes were not ticketed, the suit says.

A third plaintiff, Justino Carranza, says in the suit that he was stopped by police last August and asked to produce a driver's license and Social Security card. Carranza also wasn't ticketed, the suit says.

The lawsuit claims the officers violated the plaintiffs' rights by stopping them without having a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.

Police Chief Tim Keck denies the claims. He said he has met with Hispanic community leaders to discuss racial profiling complaints but has not seen anything he believes is unconstitutional.


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