Ramirez-Rangel, et al. v. Kitsap County, et al.

Ramirez-Rangel, et al. v. Kitsap County, et al., No. 12-2-09594-4 (Wash. Super. Ct., filed Jan. 31, 2012, decided Aug. 16, 2013)

Three individuals brought this lawsuit against Kitsap County and two Kitsap County deputy sheriffs for false arrest and violations of the Washington State Constitution.

Plaintiffs Samuel Ramirez Rangel, Leticia Gonzalez Santiago, and Jose Solis Leon were harvesting shellfish one February evening in 2010 when two Kitsap County deputy sheriffs noticed them speaking Spanish. The deputies waited for the group to exit the beach and followed their truck, eventually pulling them over to allegedly investigate a defective headlight and their shellfish licenses. Although the deputies resolved all issues relating to the headlight and shellfish, they prolonged the traffic stop to question the plaintiffs about their immigration status. The deputies proceeded to call U.S. Border Patrol to inform them they had stopped some individuals they suspected of having immigration issues, offering to detain them until Border Patrol could arrive. The deputies then called for additional law enforcement assistance and, after ordering the plaintiffs to sit in their truck, the officers kept the truck surrounded until Border Patrol agents arrived at the scene.

The court dismissed the false arrest claim but held that local law enforcement officers violate Article 1, Section 7 of the Washington State Constitution when they prolong a detention to question individuals about their immigration status, citizenship status, and/or country of origin. The court clarified that even when officers have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to seize someone for a legitimate reason unrelated to immigration enforcement, they are constitutionally forbidden from extending a detention to interrogate that detainee as to her or his immigration status once the officers have decided not to arrest that person for the original offense.

Press:

Counsel: Northwest Immigrant Rights Project | American Civil Liberties Union of Washington State | Stoel Rives LLP

Contact: Matt Adams | NWIRP | 206.957.8611 | matt@nwirp.org

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