What would you do if men in regular clothes showed up on your doorstep with no identification, no warrant, no badges and attempted to take your mother’s boyfriend away from the house?
If you were 26-year-old Eric Diaz-Cruz, you might try to stop them, but doing so would mean you get shot in the face at point-blank range.
That is exactly what the Washington Post reports happened Thursday morning around 8 a.m. in an “ethnically diverse” south Brooklyn, N.Y. neighborhood. ICE officials arrived on the doorstep of the home Gaspar Avendano-Hernandez shares with his live-in girlfriend to deport him back to Mexico. The agency said Avendano-Hernandez resisted arrest, and Diaz-Cruz attempted to intervene, resulting in an altercation.
An agent pulled out his gun and fired, shooting Diaz-Cruz in the face.
Kevin Yanez-Cruz, the 19-year-old son of Avendano-Hernandez’s girlfriend, told WABC that the scuffle happened because the agents did not identify themselves when attempting the arrest—they did not show any badges or even a warrant for his arrest.
“He resisted because they didn’t show him no papers, like, ‘Oh I’m the police,’ no badge, no nothing, no warrant, no nothing,” he said. “They just tackled him, and that’s why he reacted the way he reacted. He didn’t say, ‘Get down,’ he didn’t say nothing. And he didn’t have nothing, my brother, he didn’t have no weapons in his hands, nothing. The minute they’re tackling him, they get up to the [doorstep], I’m here, my brother is here, he thought I was going to get involved, and he pointed the gun at my brother and didn’t even hesitate and pulled the trigger.”
Avendano-Hernandez was tased during the incident, and both he and Diaz-Cruz were transported to the hospital in custody and in serious condition. It is unclear what charges Diaz-Cruz is in custody for.
The incident sparked outcry from activists and city officials alike who condemned the actions of the agents in question. At least 200 activists protested throughout the day, according to the Post.
The agency attempted to lay blame on the NYPD for not cooperating in detaining Avendano-Hernandez until he could be picked up by ICE when he was arrested Monday on a felony criminal charge of allegedly driving with a forged Connecticut license plate.
When he was arrested, immigration officials asked that he be held by police past his release date so he could be taken into custody, but as a sanctuary city, New York does not comply with those types of requests—which, as the Post notes, some courts consider to be a violation of due process.
Rachael Yong Yow, a spokeswoman for ICE, told the Wall Street Journal that two agents were injured in the incident that is now under investigation by the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility.
Yong Yow pointed the finger at NYPD, saying their refusal to hold Avendano-Hernandez past his release date “forced ICE officers to locate him on the streets of New York rather than in the safe confines of a jail.”
Freddi Goldstein, a spokeswoman for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, told WSJ “An ICE official shot someone and minutes later they attempted to point the finger at the NYPD. If that’s not further proof that they’re simply a mouthpiece for a man who lies hundreds of times a day and has absolutely no regard for public safety, I don’t know what is.”
Yanez-Cruz told WSJ that his brother, Diaz-Cruz, was on vacation in New York from Mexico on a traveler’s visa.
The city of New York has been at odds with ICE over its sanctuary city policies—policies that acting ICE Director Matthew Albence previously blamed for the death of a 92-year-old woman who was allegedly killed by an undocumented immigrant in January.
Further, as WSJ notes:
On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security suspended enrollment in Global Entry and other trusted-traveler programs for New York residents in response to a law passed by state legislators last year that permits illegal immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses and shields state driver’s license records from ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The New York Daily News reports that Diaz-Cruz is in critical but stable condition in the hospital.
“Why is ICE shooting at anyone in the city?” immigration activist Ravi Rabir of the New Sanctuary Coalition is quoted as asking by the Daily News. “This is a civil agency, not a police agency. This administration and this organization used excessive force and shot someone this morning.”