East Wenatchee Police Accused of Racial Profiling
East Wenatchee Police are being accused of racially profiling a man after an anonymous caller reported him kidnapping his own niece on July 21.
Around noon, an unknown woman saw Mario Guerrero carrying his niece in East Wenatchee and decided to call 911.
The 911 caller stated that a hispanic man with a neck tattoo was kidnapping a blonde blue-eyed child. When RiverCom tried getting more details from the reporter, she hung up.
East Wenatchee Officers Miguel Valdez, Joshua Caballero, and Leeon Leyde confronted the suspect on the corner of 11th St. NE and N Baker Ave. According to the body cam footage, police were explaining why they were stopping Guerrero and asked for identification of both him and the child's parents.
Leyde later contacted the child’s mother, Ellie Garcia, while she was at work to confirm if Guerrero was indeed her brother-in-law. After the call, police let Guerrero and his niece continue walking down the sidewalk and left.
Garcia said that both her daughter and brother-in-law were shaken up from the event and that it did not have to go down the way it did.
“No matter how you look at it, it definitely seems like it was racially motivated,” Garcia said. “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.”
Garcia is looking into getting legal representation from Seattle to avoid something like this in the future.
Sgt. Ben Fauconnier states 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.”