CNN Justice Department Producer
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/CRIME/09/02/arizona.sheriff.justice.dept/story.arpaio.gi.jpg caption="A lawsuit alleges Sheriff Joe Arpaio isn't cooperating with a probe into alleged discrimination against Hispanics." width=300 height=169]
Washington (CNN) - Justice Department civil rights lawyers filed suit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona on Thursday after talks collapsed on a deal to provide federal investigators with documents they requested.
The suit, filed in federal court in Phoenix, Arizona, claims the Maricopa County sheriff has failed to cooperate with the investigation into alleged discrimination against Hispanics by Arpaio's law enforcement officials.
The Justice Department expressed dismay at the sheriff's office's "refusal to cooperate with the investigation."
"The actions of the sheriff's office are unprecedented," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, chief of the Civil Rights Division. "It is unfortunate that the (Justice) Department was forced to resort to litigation to gain access to public documents and facilities."
The federal action became virtually certain after the sheriff's office last Friday rejected the government's demands in an open letter posted on the county's website.
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