East Wenatchee Police accused of racial profiling
A few weeks after East Wenatchee Police detained a Mario Guerrero for questioning minutes after a call came in about a possible kidnapping, a number of legal firms have reached out to the family involved in hopes of taking what's described as a "racial profiling," case.
The Clapp/Garcia/Guerrero family of East Wenatchee is now accusing the city's police department of racial profiling after one of its family members was stopped by police while holding a 21-month-old girl while walking down the street on July 21.
According to documents provided by the child's mother, Ellie Clapp-Garcia of East Wenatchee, officers responded to a welfare check at around noon after receiving a 911 call from a reporting party who was concerned that Guerrero had kidnapped a child. Guerrero is Hispanic and has a neck tattoo. The child he was carrying was his brother and sister-in-law's kid who has blonde hair and blue eyes. The child's mother, Ellie Clapp-Garcia, is caucasian and his brother, the child's father, Tylor Garcia, is Latino.
According to iFIBER ONE News partner News Radio 560 KPQ, the person who phoned in the call to emergency dispatch hung up after Rivercom 911 tried obtaining more information from the reporting party. East Wenatchee Officers Leon Leyde, Josh Caballero and Miguel Valdez responded and made contact with Guerrero and questioned him for about seven minutes, according to body cam footage provided by Ellie Clapp-Garcia.
Included in the body cam footage is a phone call from Leyde placed to Clapp-Garcia verifying that Mario was watching her child while she and the child's father were at work. After the short exchange, police allowed Guerrero and his niece to continue on, ending their detainment of him.
Clapp-Garcia says Mario was and still is "traumatized" by the encounter with police.
"My brother in law is traumatized and refuses to go out with our daughter out of fear of this happening," Clapp-Garcia told iFIBER ONE News.
“No matter how you look at it, it definitely seems like it was racially motivated,” Garcia told KPQ. “I feel like if the police had got a call saying that a white man was walking down the street with a toddler who's also white, and the lady thought it was an attempted kidnapping, I don't feel like they would have responded the way that they responded to this."
Sgt. Ben Fauconnier told KPQ that his officers did not act with racial bias and that they have to respond to any serious call they receive.
“Regardless of what the race or the gender or any other factors are, we're looking at the act that's being reported, we're not looking at who is involved or who isn't involved,” Fauconnier said. “That's not something we concern ourselves with. It has to do with whether or not it's criminal behavior. Safety to the public, that's our number one thing," Fauconnier added.
Clapp-Garcia says three law firms have reached out to them in hopes of representing them in what's referred to as a "racial profiling" case. Clapp-Garcia says their family has only reached out to one other law firm and are now considering which law office to choose. Clapp-Garcia says she was informed by her prospective attorneys that $100,000 in damages would be sought in the case.
"We aren’t solely in it for the financial gain. We want this to not happen again," Clapp-Garcia told iFIBER ONE News.