Fam­ily sues ICE in artist’s death

Suit al­leges agency was neg­li­gent in 2015 Oak­land slay­ing with agent’s stolen firearm.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Alene Tchekm­e­dyian alene.tchekm­e­dyian@la­times.com

Agent’s stolen gun was used in Oak­land fa­tal shoot­ing.

The par­ents of a Bay Area mu­ral­ist shot dead two years ago with a gun stolen from a fed­eral agent’s car are su­ing Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment for wrong­ful death.

The law­suit, filed in fed­eral court late Wed­nes­day, al­leges that the agency has a “well-doc­u­mented” his­tory of fail­ing to se­cure its weapons and that agents were neg­li­gent when they left the firearm in an un­locked bag “in plain view.”

In Septem­ber 2015, the law­suit said, an ICE agent’s 9-mil­lime­ter pis­tol, along with two badges, a pair of hand­cuffs, three fully loaded am­mu­ni­tion mag­a­zines and a ba­ton, was left in rental car parked in an area of down­town San Fran­cisco “well known for auto thefts and smash-and-grabs.”

That night, some­one smashed a car win­dow and stole the hand­gun and other items, po­lice said at the time.

About two weeks later, An­to­nio Ramos was paint­ing an anti-vi­o­lence mu­ral along a free­way un­der­pass in Oak­land as part of a project to erad­i­cate vi­o­lence by ed­u­cat­ing youth through art.

As the 27-year-old man stepped back to pho­to­graph his work, a gunman raised a pis­tol and opened fire. Ramos died at a hos­pi­tal.

The weapon, in­ves­ti­ga­tors said, was the agent’s stolen gun.

Mar­quese Hol­loway, 23, of Oak­land was ar­rested in con­nec­tion with the slay­ing. He has pleaded not guilty and re­mains in cus­tody on a no-bail or­der.

The law­suit cites a 2010 re­port by the Of­fice of the In­spec­tor Gen­eral that re­vealed that Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity agen­cies, of which ICE is one, lost 289 firearms from 2006 to 2008.

“This amounts to a firearm be­ing lost ev­ery four days,” the law­suit said.

The re­port said that 179 of 243 firearms lost by ICE and Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion “went miss­ing due to an agent or of­fi­cer’s fail­ure to prop­erly se­cure the weapon,” ac­cord­ing to the law­suit. It rec­om­mended that agents store guns in lock­boxes.

Ramos’ par­ents are seek­ing un­spec­i­fied dam­ages.

An ICE spokesman de­clined to com­ment, cit­ing an agency pol­icy of not com­ment­ing on pend­ing lit­i­ga­tion.

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