An ICE detainee is casting blame on the Chicago Police Department for his violent arrest by federal authorities, claiming its practice of sharing information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement brought about an unlawful raid on his home, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.
Attorneys representing Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez say he was erroneously placed in CPD’s “over-inclusive” gang database, which effectively stripped him of any privacy protections under Chicago’s sanctuary city ordinance, according to court documents. As a result, Catalan-Ramirez, who lawyers say was never a gang member, was seriously hurt in a March 27 arrest after ICE agents entered his Back of the Yards home without a warrant.
Catalan-Ramirez, who is in the U.S. illegally, wasn’t informed or allowed to challenge his placement in the gang database, the suit says.
“The City of Chicago is therefore not a sanctuary city for those individuals like Mr. Catalan-Ramirez who have been falsely labeled by CPD as a gang member and then subsequently targeted by ICE because CPD shared this false information,” the lawsuit says.
In a separate incident, Catalan-Ramirez, a mechanic and father of a 3-year-old U.S. citizen, suffered serious injuries, including partial paralysis and brain damage, when he was shot in the head and shoulder in January in a drive-by shooting.
During the March arrest, the suit says agents wrenched his arm behind his back and slammed his head on the floor, exacerbated his brain injury and caused him to begin to lose sight in his left eye.
His lawyers say he wasn’t given proper medical attention and was teased by staff at McHenry County Adult Correctional Center, a county jail and Chicago area ICE detention center.
The suit, which names ICE, the city of Chicago, CPD and McHenry County, claims authorities used excessive force and unlawful search and seizure. It also contends authorities violated his right to due process in his removal proceedings by characterizing him as a gang member.
Spokespeople for Chicago and the police agencies named in the suit declined to comment on the pending litigation.
The federal lawsuit was announced by Catalan-Ramirez’s wife, Celene Adame, who attended a protest at Union Park for May Day, an international holiday advocating for labor and human rights. Holding a poster with images of her family, Adame said she’s suing the police department and ICE for violating their rights and “treating us as though we’re a piece of garbage.”
“We’re not trash,” Adame said, of herself and the broader Latino community. “We come here to work and fight for our children, to bring them out ahead.”
Adame who witnessed her husband being taken into custody along with their son continues to be troubled by the event, according to the suit. Their son also has nightmares about the ordeal.
“There needs to be consequences for everyone responsible for hurting our family, for my husband, and so that it doesn’t happen to others. That’s why today we are here marching and why we are filing the lawsuit,” she said in a statement.
Chicago Tribune’s Gregory Pratt contributed.
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