Taco Bell Crime of the Week: Deputy Who Left Drunk Mexican Immigrant at Taco Bell Who Wandered into Road and Died Fined $20

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Earlier this year, I wrote about some police officers in Ohio who pulled over a Mexican immigrant for a DWI, then inexplicably left him at a Taco Bell instead of driving him to the police station while joking about how drink the immigrant was; that Mexican would end up getting killed after wandering onto a nearby road. Two of the officers are facing charges for that heinous dereliction of duty. As for the one officer who pleaded out with a no contest?

A $20 fine.

From the Columbus Dispatch:

One of two Delaware County deputies who dropped off an intoxicated Mexican immigrant at a Taco Bell last summer rather than charge the man with drunken driving was fined $20 yesterday for his role in the incident.

The immigrant, Uriel Juarez Popoca, 22, had been picked up along I-71 the night of July 28 by the two deputies and a State Highway Patrol trooper. After the deputies left him at the restaurant, Popoca tried to walk home, was hit by a car and killed.

The case drew national attention -- and local charges -- after video from the State Highway Patrol cruiser showed that at least one of the deputies made jokes about Popoca, who spoke little English and whose autopsy showed his blood-alcohol content at 0.23 percent. That's nearly three times the limit at which a driver in Ohio is presumed to be drunk.

All three officers were charged in connection with the incident. Delaware County Deputy Christopher Hughes, 27, was the only one to plead in the case rather than go to trial.

He pleaded no contest yesterday in Delaware Municipal Court to a minor-misdemeanor charge of failure to assist a law-enforcement officer. He then was found guilty and fined $20 plus court costs.

Marilyn Zayas-Davis, legal adviser for the Ohio chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, questioned the charge that Hughes pleaded to and the fine that was levied against him.

"It's illogical," Zayas-Davis said. "The outcome from the criminal proceedings calls into question what the value of life is."

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