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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28 comments
Pico Aspe
Pico Aspe

I know 6 assassin cops who killed an unarmed homeless with their fists and nothing is happening..

Jerry Vazquez
Jerry Vazquez

Racist Orange county. I guees what they say about Orange county is true. Just reading some of the comments here I can see the Racism in the oc.

WhiteyAlmighty
WhiteyAlmighty

It just doesn't make sense, Gus.  Why would anybody point fingers at the cops in this case.  It looks like all of the outrage is due to the drunk person being Mexican.  If you read this story again and replace "Mexican" with "Norwegian", it would never get mentioned in your shitty column.  You are worse than the blowhards on Fox News!

Soulchild68
Soulchild68

@GustavoArellano #WhatTheHell....#ThatAin'tRight. :(

Amanda Pontius
Amanda Pontius

I rarely side w/ the law, but this is no fault of his. Shame on you OC Weekly.

Chris Chapple
Chris Chapple

Of course its the cop's fault! Since when is any dunk person liable for his own actions?

laurenshapiro
laurenshapiro

Seriously? How are the cops responsible for this? When did we stop taking responsibility for our actions. Why are the cops culpable when it was Popoca who CHOSE to drink. when it was Popoca who CHOSE to drive drunk. 

All the cops did was give this guy a break by not writing him a ticket for a DWI and/or jailing him. They dropped him off at a TACO BELL, not the side of the street. Once again, Popoca CHOSE to be irresponsible and instead of sobering up or calling for a lift, he CHOSE to leave the safety of Taco Bell. 

The only culpable party I see here is Popoca. While a terrible tragedy that he died, he got dunk and drove and he left Taco Bell, no one else. 

Just for the record, cops are supposed to keep us safe - keeping Popoca off the streets and out of his car is keeping society safe. In fact, dropping him off at Taco Bell instead of jail was a further protection for Popoca who would have struggled to become legal (if that was his desire) in the future with an arrest on his record. Stop blaming cops for everything and let the people take some goddamn responsibility!!!! 

Anthoni Le
Anthoni Le

Lesson in Law & Religion: A cop might, but God doesn't sympathize with drunk drivers.

Gregory Soave
Gregory Soave

Lol. I love how it just says he wandered in the street and died. Did he die of starvation?

EA Prieto
EA Prieto

Brings back memories of the tragic Latasha Harlins shooting over a carton of orange juice. Probation for the killer Korean store owner Soon Ja Du.

James Stutsman
James Stutsman

PRETTY LAME OF THE COP....PEOPLE WHO WORK AT 'TACO BELL' IN OHIO DON'T SPEAK SPANISH (^^^)

Niko Babic
Niko Babic

OCW favorite kind of story: A cop & a Mexican AND Taco Bell?? Did Chirsmas come early for you or what??

Staci Williams
Staci Williams

Somebody dies and the cop only has to pay $20? Wth?

Josh Gomez
Josh Gomez

Shitty luck for the paisano , caught a break and then gets killed in the same day. Looks like his time was up !

Marlon Spears
Marlon Spears

It's difficult for me to sympathize with drunk drivers...

Hans Rojas
Hans Rojas

& it's their fault because. If Anything they were allowing him the chance to continue his American dream, be it a splattered mess on the I-71

joann
joann

@laurenshapiro 

Are you really this stupid?? Let's say after being dropped off at Taco Bell, Popoca steals a car and kills someone as a result. Do the cops have any responsibility of course they do. The cops did no do what they are paid to do and that is protect civilians from harm.

laurenshapiro
laurenshapiro

@joann No... the question is are you?

Let's do this step-by-step. Did the cops physically prevent him from drinking and driving by removing him from his vehicle? yes/no.

Did the cops take him away from the dangerous situation and thus prevent the harm of others? yes/no.

Did the cops force him to leave the Taco Bell while still intoxicated? yes/no.

And to answer your hypothetical... NO. They are not  HE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS OWN F'N ACTIONS. The cops did their job and stopped him from being a danger to others. Stop being an ignoramus. 

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