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Unarmed man shot by ICE officer files lawsuit

Unarmed man shot by ICE officer files lawsuit
© Scott Olson/Getty Images

A Mexican national who was shot in the face by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent in New York earlier this month filed a civil rights lawsuit Wednesday against the officer who pulled the trigger.

Erick Díaz Cruz was shot in the hand and face on Feb. 6 by a plainclothes ICE officer who was "engaged in a confrontation with his mother’s long-time partner, Gaspar Avendaño-Hernandez," according to a statement from his defense team.

Representatives for ICE declined to comment on ongoing litigation, but pointed to previous statements that said two ICE officers were taken to a hospital for treatment after the incident.

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Díaz Cruz remains hospitalized after the bullet went through his hand and arm and lodged in his neck as he confronted the plainclothes officers.

The 26-year-old Mexican national has incurred significant medical expenses, according to his attorney, Katie Rosenfeld.

Díaz Cruz initially confronted the officers as they scuffled outside his mother’s house with Avendaño-Hernández.

Avendaño-Hernández was hit with a Taser and arrested.

ICE spokeswoman Rachael Yong Yow said after the incident that Avendaño-Hernández had a prior assault conviction and had been recently arrested for possession of a forged instrument, prompting ICE to issue a detainer for him, according to The Wall Street Journal.

As a so-called sanctuary jurisdiction, New York does not fully cooperate with ICE in linking criminal and immigration arrests, so agents pursued a street arrest.

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Díaz Cruz has been in contact with the Mexican consulate, although he has not been charged with any crimes.

"It would be terrible and in my view retaliatory for their misconduct in shooting him. Unfortunately, I think we've all seen situations where people are wrongly accused as a part of a cover up attempt, but I certainly hope that won't happen," Rosenfeld told The Hill.

She added that Díaz Cruz's "main objective" in pursuing the lawsuit is to hold accountable those responsible for his shooting.

“This is not just an attack against me, but also an attack against the entire Latino community in the United States,” Díaz Cruz said in a statement. “This is the right time for our community to come together to protest against and protect ourselves from ICE’s violence.”