Lawsuit filed against sheriff's dept.

May 30, 2008 3:23:38 AM PDT
A lawsuit with five defendants claims civil rights violations by the sheriff's department have gone far enough. Among those defendants are Sean and Erik Ibarra. They won a big settlement with the county for $1.7 million. Soon after, 13 Undercover learned the sheriff's department had used a secret squad to tail them for several days after that lawsuit was filed, bringing even more calls about civil rights violations.

The Ibarra brothers are just two of the defendants who claim the sheriff's office violated their civil rights and want a federal judge to take control and oversee the department's activities.

April Walker says she called the sheriff's office for help on New Year's Eve, but she was the one who was unlawfully arrested.

"They're here to protect and serve the public and they broke into my house and arrested me in front of my children," said Walker. "And they treated me like an animal."

The case against Walker was dropped, but she cannot forget it.

"This has to stop," said Walker. "They can't continue to do this."

She is joined in the suit filed Thursday in federal court by four others who claim the sheriff's office violated their civil rights. They include the Ibarra brothers, who recently won a huge settlement from the county and who we've learned were under secret surveillance after they filed a civil suit against the county.

"The concern for us is that this is happening and there's a pattern of this happening," said Erik Ibarra. "And it's happening to other people."

"We have a sheriff who the taxpayers pay a salary for him to just violate everybody's civil rights and that's not right," said Sean Ibarra.

The suit contends there is a pattern of abuse here. The sheriff's office has not returned a phone call for comment. The DA's office, also named in the suit, says it will not comment. Though after dropping the initial case against Walker, it is now seeking an indictment against her on several new charges related to the New Year's Eve incident. She appears before a grand jury June 19.

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