A traffic violation against a Mexican man pulled over by a Gilbert police officer accused of racial profiling was dropped Tuesday. A San Tan Justice Court judge found Armando Rodriguez Morales, 60, not guilty of an illegal backing charge.
"I'm glad it's done, and there was justice," Morales said.
On Dec. 14, Morales was pulled over in Mesa by motorcycle officer Chad Wright, who was working holiday DUI patrol.
Morales had driven from Hermosillo, Mexico, with his family for a wedding. He carries a Mexican driver's license and has Sonora license plates.
Wright said that Morales' car reversed several feet toward his motorcycle, parked directly behind the car while at the intersection of Broadway Road and Mesa Drive.
However, Morales and three witnesses testified that he did not reverse. The judge found that even if he had, it didn't matter.
The illegal backing violation states that a driver shall not back a vehicle unless it's done safely and doesn't interfere with other traffic.
"It quit rolling, it did not strike the motorcycle, and there were several feet left between the motorcycle and the car," Judge Samuel Goodman said.
Prosecutors had offered Morales a deal to assess two points on his Arizona driving record, but he refused the offer.
Two other charges against Morales from the traffic stop were also dropped in January.
Wright had cited Morales for falsified license and insurance documents.
He then ordered Morales' car towed, leaving Morales and his family stranded on the side of the road.
The Mexican Consulate verified both the license and insurance.
Morales' situation caught the attention of Mesa police Chief George Gascón after a complaint was sent to city officials.
Gascón forwarded the complaint to Gilbert, prompting an internal investigation of Wright.
Gilbert police later released the car free of charge, saying the car was improperly impounded.
Since the investigation, the Tribune has learned Wright has accumulated dozens of citizen complaints, including others of racial profiling.
He also tickets Hispanic drivers at a rate nearly double the department average, police records indicate.