A man who was shot in the face by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer is suing the officer. The complaint, filed Tuesday in the Eastern District of New York, seeks punitive damages for the "lawless shooting."
Erick Diaz Cruz, 26, was unarmed when he was shot by a plainclothes ICE officer outside his mother's home in Brooklyn on February 6. Diaz Cruz was in town from Mexico visiting his mother on a valid tourist visa when ICE agents attempted to arrest the mother's boyfriend, Gasper Avendano-Hernandez.
"This is not just an attack on me but and attack on the entire Latino community in the United States," Diaz Cruz said in the statement. "This is the right time for out community to come together and protect against and protect ourselves from ICE's violence."
Diaz Cruz put his hands in front of his face in self defense before the agent fired, according to a statement from the New York City Legal Aid Society. The bullet passed through Diaz Cruz's hand, and hit the left side of his face. According to the press release, the bullet is still lodged in his neck. The lawsuit states that Diaz Cruz suffered several broken bones in his face, wrist and hand.
"A young, hardworking and law-abiding man was gunned down on the streets of Brooklyn in broad daylight in front of his family, shot in the face at point blank range, by an agent of the United States government," an attorney for Diaz Cruz said. "Erick posed no threat to anyone, at any time. Erick's face is shattered, and he and his family are traumatized. We are a nation of laws, equality and justice; Erick's case demands that we live up to those values."
In addition to damages, the lawsuit also seeks "a deceleration that Defendant's actions violated the constitution." The identity of the agent who shot Diaz Cruz is not known at this time.
The lawsuit comes as Border Patrol agents are being dispatched to sanctuary cities throughout the U.S.
"The message for ICE: we don't want you here," New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said the day of the shooting.
First published on February 19, 2020 / 9:09 PM
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