Racial bias complaint investigation concluded

Officer exonerated

Dec 09, 2015 - by Bob Vander Yacht, Lieutenant

Bellingham (WA)

On September 18, 2015 the Bellingham Police Department received a complaint alleging racial profiling by a Bellingham Police officer.  This complaint was filed by Alfredo 'Lelo' Juarez stemming from a traffic stop that occurred on June 20, 2015. 

The investigation into this complaint determined that at about 10:40 p.m. on June 20 Mr. Juarez was stopped by Officer Serad for driving a motor vehicle the wrong direction on a one-way street.  During the stop Juarez provided a false name and date of birth, claiming to be 18 years old.  He also claimed to have Washington and California driver's licenses. Officer Serad was unable to verify Mr. Juarez' identity and driving status through state and local databases.   

Eventually Mr. Juarez admitted to the officer that he did not possess a valid driver's license.  He also said that he had applied for legal status through the US Immigration DACA program.  Customs and Border Protection (CBP) were contacted by Officer Serad as he believed that Juarez could be identified through federal databases. CBP responded and eventually took custody of Mr. Juarez to determine his identity.  He was released by CBP and later publicly admitted that he had been untruthful about his name and actual age of 15.

The complaint investigation has been completed. The department has determined that Officer Serad's stop of Mr. Juarez' vehicle and his attempts to confirm his identity were lawful and in compliance with departmental policies.   

Chief Cook observed that “the outcome of this incident could have been much different had Mr. Juarez been truthful with the officer”.   

To view related officer body camera video go to the Bellingham Police Department (WA) YouTube site.


Media Contact

​Bob Vander Yacht, Lieutenant

Bellingham Police Department

360-778-8765

Rvanderyacht@cob.org


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