Five Months in Solitary for a Traffic Ticket

     NEW ORLEANS (CN) – Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents held a Mexican citizen in solitary confinement for five months after beating him and denying him medical treatment, the man claims in Federal Court.
     Fernando Figueroa-Barajas sued ICE New Orleans Field Office Director for Enforcement and Removal George H. Lund III, and other unidentified ICE agents, for First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment violations.
     Pascagoula, Miss., police arrested Figueroa on Sept. 5, 2013, for a traffic violation.
     ICE agents then took him to detention near Gulfport, Miss., shackled at his wrists, ankles and waist.
     The John Doe agents accused him of a prior deportation from the United States and demanded that he sign a deportation document, Figueroa says in the lawsuit.
     When he refused and asked to speak with an attorney, an ICE agent “grabbed the back of plaintiff’s head by his hair and slammed it against the surface in front of him several time,” according to the complaint.
     Bleeding profusely from the face, Figueroa was put on the floor and the same agent kicked him repeatedly, he claims. He was put in a holding area after the agent realized the severity of Figueroa’s injuries, where another agent noticed the plaintiff and inquired about his condition.
     Figueroa says he told the second ICE agent that he had been beaten by the first, but was ignored after the first ICE agent denied it.
     Within a matter of minutes Figueroa became dizzy and began vomiting and convulsing. Paramedics were called and he was rushed to a hospital, during which time the first two ICE agents, along with a third, “prevented plaintiff from explaining to medical personnel how he had received his injuries, thus interfering with his access to adequate medical care,” the complaint states.
     The agents later tore up his discharge forms, with one telling Figueroa, “This is how you can get us fired,” according to the lawsuit.
     Upon leaving the hospital and being transferred to St. Tammany Parish Jail, one or more of the agents told the jail’s nursing staff that Figueroa was suicidal. He was stripped naked and put in an isolation cell. The false accusation of suicidal behavior resulted in Figueroa remaining in solitary confinement for more than five months, the lawsuit states.
     At no time did jail personnel investigate his claims of abuse by the ICE agents, Figueroa says.
     He seeks punitive damages for excessive force, failure to intervene, denial of medical treatment, due process violations and a First Amendment violation for after he asked to speak to a lawyer and refused to sign documents.
     He is represented by R. Andrew Free of Nashville and Paul Hugh Scott of Baton Rouge.

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