SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — The family of a young Oakland artist who was killed while painting an anti-violence mural sued the federal government Wednesday, saying the gun used to shoot him had been stolen from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer.
Antonio Ramos was shot in broad daylight on Sept. 29, 2015 as he worked on a community mural project on the 580 freeway underpass in West Oakland.
Marquise Holloway, a felon affiliated with an Oakland gang, was charged with murdering Ramos, 27. The local ABC affiliate reported that he shot Ramos without provocation. He had a prior conviction for robbery.
The 9mm Glock had been stolen two weeks earlier from a rental car parked in the South of Market, or SOMA, neighborhood of San Francisco, an area notorious for vehicle break-ins.
Another gun belonging to a ranger from the Bureau of Land Management was stolen from a car in the same neighborhood in the same year, and used to kill 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle. In that case, as in this one, the gun was not properly secured.
“From what we know, it was left in a bag in plain sight in a car parked in the SOMA neighborhood, which is a high-theft, high-crime area. It wasn’t in a lock box or secured or even put in the trunk of the car. These are all steps that could have been taken,” Alison Cordova, an attorney for Ramos’ parents, said in an interview Wednesday.
Ramos’s parents Teresa Lopez and Red Ryder Ramos say in the federal lawsuit that the ICE officer should have known better than to leave a gun in plain view, in violation of ICE guidelines.
They cite a 2010 report from the Office of the Inspector General that found that 74 percent of the guns reported missing by the Department of Homeland Security between 2006 and 2008 were lost due to an agent’s or officer’s failure to secure them properly.
“The failure to properly store and secure a handgun has led to an innocent person being killed, and this is a rampant problem,” Cordova said. “If ICE followed their own guidelines this wouldn’t be happening. It’s really a failure to follow best practices.”
Ramos’ parents seek damages for wrongful death and negligence. Cordova said the lawsuit is intended to be a wake-up call.
“Their purpose is so that another family doesn’t have to lose a young son to senseless violence,” she said. “This is obviously a breakdown in the system because this happens so many times. The hope would be this lawsuit will push the federal government to find out what that problem is and to address it.”
Cordova is with Frank Pitre with Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy.