Delaware County Sheriff Russell Martin said Monday he believes that his current deputies would not make the same decisions that two deputies made in 2012, which resulted in the death of a man.
The Associated Press reports that in July 2012, sheriff’s deputies Derek Beggs and Christopher Hughes picked up a disoriented Uriel Juarez-Popoca, 22. After they learned that he had a limited command of English, they dropped him off at a Taco Bell near Interstate 71 at Sunbury, joking that “They gotta (sic) have someone in there who can interpret.”
Juarez-Popoca was later kicked out of the restaurant and within the hour was struck and killed by a vehicle while he walking on U.S. 36.
Beggs and Hughes were fired, but later allowed to resign and admit no guilt, reports the AP.
A civil suit against Delaware County was settled in February 2017 and Juarez-Popoca’s family was awarded $300,000.
The AP reports that Martin said the deputies did not follow procedure when they left Juarez-Popoca at Taco Bell.
“This was a dark time for the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office,” said Martin, who had only been sheriff for six weeks when Juarez-Popoca was killed. “The loss of life is always tragic. We were glad to put this behind us in February and attempt to move on.”
Martin said he doesn’t believe his deputies would make the same decisions now.
“We always integrate in our training that the decisions we make often times have lasting consequences,” Martin said. “I believe that the deputies who work here today would not make a decision like the one that was made that night.”
Martin said that sheriff’s deputies can call on interpreters when dealing with people who don’t speak English.
“We’ve always had access to interpreters and contract with an interpreter service, LanguageLine,” Martin said. “The tools are in place to handle language.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.