by Sam Hieb
The judge’s ruling in the civil rights violations trial of Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson is not expected for months now that the trial has wrapped up.
As expected, Johnson took the stand:
Johnson said that until he was deposed, he hadn’t been aware of emails or a video game circulating among his deputies. The emails were derogatory of Hispanics, and the video game required players to shoot Mexicans to score points.
Asked about Laura Roselle, Johnson said a Sheriff’s Office car was in her neighborhood because a deputy lived around the corner. Roselle is an Elon University professor and member of a group advocating for better treatment of Hispanics by law enforcement. She moved her family out of Alamance County in 2011 because she believed the Sheriff’s Office was threatening her.
Johnson denied ever being at checkpoints in Green Level and Haw River, where he was alleged to have told deputies to arrest Hispanics. He also denied referring to Hispanics as “chili-[vulgarity].”
As for the Rocky Top Mobile Home Park incident, Johnson said when he told deputies to “go get some Mexicans,” he was referring to members of a Mexican gang, and that the mobile home park came to the department’s attention because a Mexican gang was believed to be there.
Johnson also said the 287(g) program was a success while the county had it.
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder appears to be putting a tough burden of proof on the U.S. Department of Justice to prove that Johnson violated the rights of Hispanics living in Alamance County, especially the DOJ-hired “expert” who conducted the field study showing that the sheriff’s issued citations to Hispanics at a higher rate than non-Hispanics. Based on that, I’ll go out on a limb and predict Johnson is found not guilty.