Migrant farmer says arrested Independence cop targeted Hispanics

Migrant farmer says arrested Independence cop targeted Hispanics

INDEPENDENCE, LA (WAFB) - Independence Police say Hispanic residents like migr ant farmer Diana Mendez helped to tip them off about the alleged illegal activity of one of their officers.

Mendez told 9News Wednesday what she says 25-year-old Laquinton Banks did to other Mexican migr ants she knows.

"He told them that if they didn't pay him $500, he was going to transport them to jail," said Mendez.

The Independence police officer was arrested Monday, accused of stealing $1600 from four Mexican migr ant farmers during traffic stops.

Mendez says Banks looked for any reason to pull them over, and then stole cash from their wallets and made threats to deport them.

Mendez says the men were working in Independence legally through a work visa program and do not speak English.

Police Chief Frank Edwards suspended Banks after receiving the first complaint last week.

"I told our detective to look into it. He called me, I think after lunch, and said, 'It looks like there's a problem.' Officer Banks was supposed to start a shift at 6 that evening, but we suspended him before that shift," recalled Chief Edwards.

Banks was taken to the Tangipahoa Parish Jail where the jail said he remained in their system Wednesday.

Investigators continue to talk with Hispanic advocates like Mendez.

Both parties are hoping any other potential victims will come forward.

"I guess after today, the Hispanic community is going to speak up every time they get abused," said Mendez.

Chief Edwards says Officer Banks denies doing anything wrong.

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