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Family Sues Delaware Co. over Death of Drunk Man Dropped off at Taco Bell

COLUMBUS (Ken Hines) -- Family members of a man who died while walking drunk along a central Ohio road after being abandoned at a restaurant by deputies are suing Delaware County over their loved one's death.

Lawyers have filed a civil suit against Delaware County and several other parties on behalf of the family of Uriel Popoca, who was fatally struck by a vehicle on US-36 after walking away from a nearby Taco Bell on July 28, 2012.

Delaware County Deputies Derek Beggs and Christopher Hughes dropped Popoca off at the restaurant after finding him drunk and sleeping in his truck on the median of I-71.

During the traffic stop that preceded Popoca's death, Beggs and Hughes were recorded by a dashcam device discussing Popoca's condition with Ohio Trooper Sean Carpenter, and debating the question of who was responsible for dealing with the situation.

The authorities eventually decided to take the Mexican native to the restaurant, with one deputy saying, "we're going to drop him off at Taco Bell. I figure they'll have somebody that interprets."

Beggs and Hughes were convicted of misconduct charges related to the Popoca case, and were fired from their jobs. Carpenter was also fired, but that decision was reversed by an arbitrator.

The lawsuit filed Thursday on behalf of Popoca's family states that the officers' behavior was discriminatory and negligent, and also alleges that Delaware County officials failed to properly train deputies to deal with impaired Mexican or Hispanic drivers.

Lawyers are seeking monetary compensation on behalf of Popoca's family, and are also asking that the plaintiffs treat people of Mexican heritage with respect in the future.
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