Man Claims ICE Shot at the Wrong Guy
LOS ANGELES (CN) - A plainclothes immigration agent shot at a man as he dropped a child off at school, then ICE falsely accused him of trying to murder the agent, the man claims in court.
Daniel Noriega sued unknown Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Federal Court for use of deadly force without cause and arrest without probable cause.
Noriega says he was dropping off his girlfriend's son at an Anaheim elementary school on Dec. 1, 2011, when "all of a sudden, a car quickly pulled up near Noriega. The tires screeched as the vehicle came to an abrupt halt. The UFA [Unknown Federal Agent], without any warning or instruction, without identifying himself as a federal agent or law enforcement officer, without any provocation whatsoever, and while wearing plain clothes, quickly exited his vehicle, pulled out a firearm as he approached Noriega, and fired it at Noriega," according to the complaint.
Noriega, scared for his life, drove around a vehicle in front of him and left the parking lot to escape from the "unidentified attacker that had tried to kill him," he says in the lawsuit.
Noriega, who did not have a cell phone on him, drove to a nearby gas station and used their phone to call 911. Several officers, including the immigration agent, showed up at the gas station, handcuffed Noriega, and put him in the back of a vehicle, according to the complaint.
"The UFA and other ICE agents reviewed a photo and compared it to Noriega. Upon comparison, the federal agents shook their heads in a left to right manner demonstrating a 'no' or 'negative' response to their comparative assessment of whether Noriega was the person in the photo for whom they had been searching," Noriega says in the complaint.
Despite knowing that Noriega was not the person ICE had been looking for, and without probable cause, the unidentified immigration agent either asked local police arrest Noriega or made knowingly false statements that caused them to arrest him, Noriega says in the complaint.
"Noriega was arrested and threatened with criminal prosecution for attempted murder of an ICE agent while law enforcement searched his vehicle and then unlawfully searched his home without a warrant," the complaint states.
Noriega was eventually released with no criminal charges filed against him.
Noriega later told NBC that ICE agents were looking for his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend, who was arrested nine days later in another state.
Noriega seeks punitive damages for constitutional violations.
He is represented by Federico Sayre, with Sayre & Levitt, of Santa Ana.
The ICE Office of Public Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.