Sacramento man files $750,000 claim against ICE, says agents beat him to get him to be a snitch
A Sacramento man on Wednesday filed a claim seeking $750,000 against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, alleging that agents beat and threatened him with deportation last year when he refused to turn in other people who were in the country illegally.
The complaint says ICE agents first put Carlos Alfredo Rueda Cruz, 28, who is originally from Mexico, on an order of supervision in March 2017, which required him to report to the agency monthly and divulge information about other immigrants in exchange for being permitted to stay in the United States. Rueda said agents pushed him to turn in people with criminal convictions and those who engaged in criminal activity but had not been arrested or faced trial.
“Although Mr. Rueda reported monthly as required, not once did he provide information about other noncitizens,” the claim states. “Mr. Rueda did not know of any criminal noncitizens and refused to fabricate stories.”
A spokesman for ICE did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment Thursday. Claims against government agencies are typically filed before a lawsuit is initiated.
According to the claim, ICE agents in Sacramento grew increasingly frustrated with Rueda over several months, screamed at him during meetings and threatened to deport his family if he didn’t provide information.
The situation intensified, according to the claim, on Sept. 26, 2017, when Rueda went to the field office for his scheduled check-in and was told he was being arrested and deported for failing to be an informant.
After being held in the office for hours, Rueda was brought into a room with three ICE agents, one of whom demanded he sign a paper written in English. He refused to sign it because he does not speak or read English and didn’t understand the contents of the document. Agents told him that it was for his deportation to Mexico and that he “had no choice” but to sign it, the claim states.
Agents refused to allow him to speak with an attorney, Rueda said. When he continued to refuse to sign the document, he alleged, two agents jumped on top of him and then grabbed his arms and twisted them behind his back. Another agent slammed Rueda’s head on the table. A fourth agent tried to force Rueda’s index finger onto an ink pad to use his fingerprint as a signature on the document, but he made a fist to prevent them from getting a usable print, the claim says.
Rueda said he was screaming and crying uncontrollably and felt like he was being tortured during the encounter. He was sent to Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center for the night but was brought back the next day to the immigration office where, the claim says, agents assaulted him a second time.
When Rueda again refused to sign the document, he said, four agents slammed his head on the table, jumped on top of him, kneed him in the ribs and pulled his arms behind his back. Agents again tried to force his finger onto an ink pad so they could place his fingerprint on the document, according to the claim.
“Mr. Rueda tried to make a fist to prevent [the agent] from taking his fingerprint, but the agents continued to knee him on his ribs so that the pain caused his hand to open,” the claim states. “The ICE agents pushed his arms further up behind his back, causing him extreme and severe pain, as this aggravated the injuries to his neck and shoulders that he suffered the previous day.”
Rueda’s screams and cries for help caused other detainees in the holding rooms to bang on the door and scream through the window for agents to stop hitting him. The abuse continued, the claim alleges, until agents obtained his fingerprint.
He called a lawyer when he returned to detention that afternoon. Rueda was released from detention in November, and attorneys have been able to get his deportation orders stayed based on the claim that agents coerced him into providing his fingerprint.
Rueda’s attorney, Luis Angel Reyes Savalza, said this is the first case he’s aware of in which ICE agents used an informant to gather information in their community.
“It’s very difficult to get any transparency from ICE about what goes on behind closed doors,” he said.
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