US judge opens civil rights case of NC sheriff

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) - Two retired supervising deputies say a North Carolina sheriff told officers to take Hispanic motorists to jail whenever they were stopped for traffic violations.

Their testimony came Tuesday during the opening of a lawsuit against Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson, who is running unopposed for re-election in November.

The U.S. Justice Department accuses Johnson of using his office to violate the Constitution's promise of equal protection and barring unreasonable searches.

Retired lieutenants Ken Evans and Stephen Perry testified they heard Johnson demand Latino drivers be locked up rather than issued a citation.

Defense attorney S.C. Kitchen said there was no racial profiling by Johnson's deputies, and the case will hinge on the testimony of the witnesses.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder is hearing the case without a jury.

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