By Sophia Tareen
March 28, 2017
CHICAGO — Chicago activists and residents called for more transparency Tuesday as officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigate an agent-involved shooting that left a man wounded and raised questions about the use of force.
Federal authorities and an attorney for the hospitalized man offered conflicting accounts of Monday’s shooting, which occurred at a Chicago home as ICE officers were serving an arrest warrant. ICE asserts an agent fired after someone pointed a gun at arresting agents, while the wounded man’s attorney said his client was unarmed and shot after he opened the door.
The uncertainty fueled concerns by aldermen, immigrant rights advocates and residents in the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood northwest of downtown, who scrutinized why a gun was used by ICE.
“We believe that regardless of the circumstances, when a civilian is shot, the community needs to know why,” said Juan Cruz, an organizer with Communities United. “There are a lot of questions the community has.”
The spotlight comes as President Donald Trump has pursued aggressive immigration policies. Some activists called the Chicago shooting by an ICE officer “unprecedented,” though federal data show that ICE officers have used lethal force before.
A January report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General shows ICE officers used force 95 times in the fiscal year ending in 2015. Six of those incidents were classified as “lethal,” meaning they involved techniques such as discharging a firearm or striking someone in the neck. The report doesn’t specify further.
ICE officials said they don’t track officer-involved shootings.
The report did conclude that the department lacked oversight on the use of force when it comes to the roughly 80,000 law enforcement officers in ICE and other agencies it oversees. The department agreed with the findings, which also showed that most ICE use-of-force cases involve less-lethal methods, like the use of a baton.
During the Monday morning shooting in Chicago, a special agent was attempting to arrest someone when a second person pointed a weapon at agents, according to ICE. ICE officials said the special agent fired his weapon, wounding the second person.
But attorney Thomas Hallock said he heard a different version of events when he visited the wounded 53-year-old man at a hospital. Hallock said he was told the unarmed man heard a pounding at his door, answered it and was shot “without cause.”
“I don’t know if there was some sort of mistake,” Hallock said.
ICE declined to elaborate on the shooting Tuesday, saying its Office Professional Responsibility will investigate. A message left for a union representing ICE employees wasn’t immediately returned Tuesday.
Hallock said the man and his wife arrived from Mexico over two decades ago and are legal residents of the United States. Seven or eight people were in the home at the time of the shooting, he said.
ICE hasn’t publicly named the target of the arrest warrant, and it wasn’t clear if that person was detained. Hallock said he is also representing the wounded man’s adult son, who was briefly detained.
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