HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A South Carolina family has filed a lawsuit against a Hancock County sheriff’s deputy after they felt they were unlawfully detained for several hours because of their ethnicity.
While driving through Mississippi with their children, Marcos and Stephanie Martinez said they were stopped by Milton Latschar, who immediately asked if they were U.S. citizens.
The lawsuit also says that Latschar threatened Marcos with loss of his lawful permanent residence, made accusations that the family was engaged in criminal activity and conducted a search of the family’s belongings because he perceived the family to be Latino and of Mexican descent.
Latschar confiscated the U.S. passports, lawful permanent residency cards and valid immigration documents belonging to the family, according to the lawsuit.
The family was detained for approximately two hours on the side of Interstate 10 while Latschar searching their belongings and inspected the vehicle, after which the family was taken to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, according to the lawsuit.
Stephanie Martinez then called 911 from inside the sheriff’s office and demanded her family’s release. The family’s lawyer also called the sheriff’s office, challenging the legality of the family’s detention. It was then the Martinez family was released, and their confiscated documents were returned to them.
The lawsuit says Latschar attempted to act as an immigration agent, although he had no authority to do so as the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office does not have an agreement with the federal government giving deputies authority to enforce federal immigration law.
Read the full lawsuit here.
When asked for comment, Sheriff Ricky Adam said “We look forward to see this forward it it makes it to court.”