U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers shot a 26-year-old man in the face Thursday morning while attempting to detain his mother's boyfriend in New York City, ICE and law enforcement sources tell News 4.
Family identified the man as Erick Diaz, who had arrived in Gravesend, Brooklyn, just last week on a current visitor visa, according to a spokesperson for the Consulate General of Mexico in New York. Diaz's family says they were watching ICE agents attempt to take Gasper Avendano-Hernandez into custody when at least one shot was fired.
"They shot him in the cheek. It penetrated and came out here," Kevin Yanez-Cruz, Diaz's brother, tells NBC New York as he pointed to his cheek and the back of his neck.
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ICE says Avedano-Hernandez is undocumented and he had been removed from the U.S. twice to Mexico since 2011. Agents were trying to detain him again Thursday when the shooting took place.
He was allegedly pulled over by the NYPD while driving in Brooklyn on Monday for using a forged paper temporary license plate from Connecticut, according to a law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the case.
“The New York Police Department arrested Avendano-Hernandez Feb. 3 for possession of a forged instrument, a felony criminal charge. ICE attempted to lodge an immigration detainer after his most recent arrest, however the subject was released from local custody before ICE could lodge a detainer. This forced ICE officers to locate him on the streets of New York rather than in the safe confines of a jail," the agency said in a statement.
Details of the shooting are being investigated by the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility and it was unclear how Diaz became involved.
One witness tells NBC New York that "the whole family came out fighting against police officers when they should have been listening."
ICE said a second person is in custody as well but the person was not identified. Two ICE officers were injured in the confrontation and taken to a hospital for treatment.
Diaz is in critical but stable condition, according to the family representative. The shooting drew a small crowd of protesters who want the ICE agent who pulled the trigger to be held accountable to Maimonides Medical Center where he was recovering Thursday night.
"This is what happens when you have a rouge organization such as ICE that is terrorizing our communities and ripping apart our families," said Carlos Calzadilla-Palacio of Young Progressives of America.
Diaz's family did not make a statement but through a representative, they thanked protesters for the show of support and asked everyone to stay peaceful.
Local officials echoed the concerns of protesters as they demand for more information and immediate investigation into the shooting. Among the protesters were New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams.
"We will not stand by while @ICEgov harasses and shoots unarmed community members," Williams said.
Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler says he was "appalled" by the incident and concerned about the use of force by ICE agents.
"The conflicting narratives from ICE agents and those of the family are disturbing. This unfortunate incident further erodes trust in the agency's mission and its responsibilities," Nadler said in a letter to Matthew Albence, the acting director of ICE.