What Were They Thinking?

Drunk-Driving-Taco-Bell-ROHUriel Juarez-Popoca was a man of Mexican descent who was in this country illegally. We use the past tense because Uriel Juarez-Popoca is dead after an encounter with Deputies from the Deleware County (Ohio) Sheriff’s Office.

On July 28, 2012, the police found Juaraz parked along the side of the road intoxicated.

You can conjure up your own stereotypical image of a drunken, illegal immigrant Mexican because that is what the deputies did. Not only did they think that, they acted upon it.

The deputies are seen on a dash camera trying to communicate with Juaraz who, because of being drunk and or limited English skills, did not communicate back with them.

The cops then started to make jokes saying that Juarez might be better understood at a Taco Bell.

The joking continues after Juaraz is handcuffed and placed in the back of a police cruiser.

What happens next boggles the mind:

Deputies did not take him to jail, but instead, drove him to the Taco Bell at I-71 and state Route 36/37. They allegedly told him to call someone for a ride home.

“It’s hard to speculate, but obviously, the officers did not want to take him to jail, for whatever reason,” said Joe Mas, a Columbus attorney. “Or that they just wanted to be kind, and unfortunately, the circumstances developed otherwise.”

Restaurant employees then called 911 three times to say that Juarez Popoca was drunk and walking around the restaurant.

Are you laughing yet?

Isn’t it funny that the police took the drunk illegal Mexican to a Taco Bell and left him there?

Here’s the real punch line though:

A police report says Juarez Popoca left Taco Bell and walked west along U.S. Route 36.

Over the next 50 minutes, more calls came in from drivers saying a man was walking very close to the edge of the road.

Juarez Popoca was struck and killed along U.S. Route 36 near Africa Road a while later.

Both the OSHP and the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office launched investigations into troopers and deputies’ actions.

The video is taken from the median of the highway.

A law enforcement official also is heard telling Juarez Popoca to call his family and telling him to leave his keys in the ignition.

At one point in the dash camera video, a law enforcement officer is heard saying, “We’re going to drop him off at Taco Bell.”

911 calls, also obtained by 10 Investigates, recount the crash that left Juarez Popoca dead.

Funny stuff, eh?

Yeah, that ol’ “drunk Mexican at a Taco Bell” never fails to have us laughing so much we spew coffee over our keyboard.

Eventually all three deputies lost their jobs and one was convicted of a misdemeanor. Apparently it is not a crime to be criminally stupid in an incident that results in the death of another person.

Maybe it should be.

We cannot imagine what these cops were thinking. If a guy is so drunk that he cannot communicate and is placed in handcuffs, the police have a legal, ethical and moral duty to insure the safety of that individual. We cannot think of a universe where dropping a drunk in a Taco Bell fulfills any duty to keep a person safe.

The fact that the Taco Bell employees recognized that the guy was hazard to himself and that for 50 minutes after he left the restaurant the police received calls about him staggering around on a highway without the police responding again shows that in this case, the average citizen was smarter than the police who put Juaraz in that situation.

With Juaraz dead, and the cops fired, the next step was inevitable: the family of Juaraz has filed a lawsuit:

Michael Bear, administrator of the estate of Uriel Juarez-Popoca, sued Delaware County, nine Delaware County deputy sheriffs and Ohio State Trooper Sean Carpenter, in Federal Court.

The “deep pocket” here is Deleware County. That means that for actions that are so egregious, and outside professional police standards, (as well as being criminal,) the citizens of Deleware County are going to pay.

It makes one wonder what the cops were thinking when they were laughing and joking and deciding to take Juaraz to Taco Bell because no one is laughing now.

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