The family of a man who was shot in the face by immigration agents in Gravesend last week is calling for a federal investigation of the incident as he prepares to sue the agency, advocates say.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers were trying to arrest an allegedly undocumented Gravesend man at his W. 12th Street house on Feb. 6, when Erick Diaz-Cruz intervened. An ICE officer shot at the 26-year-old, and the bullet ricocheted off Diaz-Cruz’s hand and hit his cheek, according to witnesses.
First responders rushed Diaz-Cruz to the Maimonides Medical Center in stable condition. He underwent several surgeries two days later, and was released from the hospital on Wednesday night, his family said.
“Erick came out of surgery around 1:30 pm; surgery that lasted several hours where the bullet he had since Thursday was taken out,” a family member wrote in a Facebook post on Feb. 8. “Surgeons at Maimonides hospital did an excellent job, right now he is in recovery.
Diaz-Cruz has legal immigration papers, the Consulate General of Mexico in New York told reporters, while the suspect of the ICE investigation is undocumented. In a statement, ICE claimed that the suspect is “a twice-removed illegal alien from Mexico with a 2011 assault conviction in New York City” who they arrested on Feb. 6 because of a recent traffic stop.
ICE officials are holding Avendano-Hernandez in a New Jersey facility, advocates say.
Diaz-Cruz’s family, meanwhile, is calling on federal authorities and the Attorney General to investigate the shooting, and is working with legal groups to file a lawsuit against ICE, according to several activists.
Local immigration activists, who organized a rally outside Maimonides Medical Center following the shooting, have jumpstarted a fundraising campaign to cover Diaz-Cruz’s medical bills, which has raised just over $6,000 so far. Several groups will host a candlelight vigil near the family’s Gravesend house to stand in solidarity with Diaz-Cruz and Avendano-Hernandez.
ICE representatives did not respond to requests for comment by press time.