Erick Diaz Cruz said in his lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court that he was visiting his mother in Brooklyn on a valid tourist visa when he was shot in the face Feb. 6 by an agent who was trying to arrest Cruz's mother's companion.
The officer gave no warning before firing at Diaz Cruz from about 4 feet away, according to the lawsuit. Diaz Cruz was unarmed, and the officer “had no reason to believe he was armed," he claims in the lawsuit.
An ICE spokeswoman said Thursday that the agency cannot comment on the specifics of pending litigation. Diaz Cruz was shot as agents were trying to arrest Gaspar Avendano-Hernandez, a Mexican national accused of being in the U.S. unlawfully.
The shooting came amid an ongoing dispute between the administration of Republican President Donald Trump and New York City over its sanctuary policies. ICE has expressed frustration that the city does not honor the vast majority of its immigration detainer requests.
Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio has said his administration complies with detainer requests for defendants who have been convicted of a violent or serious felony. Diaz Cruz, 26, who works as an assistant to the mayor of the Mexican city of Veracruz, said the agent's bullet tore through his left hand, entered his left cheek and remains lodged in his neck because surgery to remove it would be too risky. He underwent two surgeries and will require “countless more medical interventions,” according to the lawsuit.
ICE said in a statement after the shooting that the shot was fired after its officers were “physically attacked.” But Diaz Cruz alleges in the lawsuit that the officers were not “in danger of fatal of bodily harm from Mr. Diaz Cruz or anyone else.”