To Protect and Swerve

Whats the deal with Sheriffs Deputy Joe Balicki and Latinos in cars?

For 53-year-old Lola Peralez—disabled and wheelchairbound by polio since the age of one—Roberto was the love of her life. Informed of her husband's death, she fainted. "My husband was a human being, and he had his faults, but he really was always a good man to me," she said. "I will never believe he tried to run over the deputies. He wasn't that kind of person. Once, he even called the police himself and told them he needed help with his drug problem."

In her front door, there is a grapefruit-sized hole, a remnant of the raid on the morning of the killing. A hand towel is all that blocks the wind from pouring in. More than a dozen family pictures and religious figurines decorate her modest, tidy 88-year-old house; Roberto was born on the property in 1933. Since the shooting, Lola Peralez says she can't sleep well and has contemplated hiring a lawyer to file a wrongful-death lawsuit.

"It hasn't been easy," she said. "I have a very bad feeling about what happened. I wonder if they [the deputies] figured it wasn't a bad thing that there would be one less poor Mexican in the world."

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