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ECBA Files Suit Against US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officer On Behalf of Erick Diaz Cruz, an Unarmed 26-Year-Old Man from Mexico Shot in the Face by an ICE Officer.

On February 19, 2020, ECBA filed suit on behalf of Erick Diaz Cruz, an unarmed 26-year-old Mexican man, who was shot in the left hand and cheek by a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer in Gravesend, Brooklyn. As detailed in the complaint, the shooting occurred on the morning of Thursday, February 6, 2020 while Mr. Diaz Cruz was on vacation with his girlfriend visiting his mother on a valid tourist visa.

“Along with millions of New Yorkers, we are heartbroken and sickened by ICE’s senseless and unjustified shooting of Erick,” said ECBA partner Katie Rosenfeld. “A young, hard-working and law-abiding man was gunned down on the streets of Brooklyn in broad daylight in front of his family, shot in the face at point blank range, by an agent of the United States government. Erick posed no threat to anyone, at any time. Erick’s face is shattered, and he and his family are traumatized.  We are a nation of laws, equality and justice; Erick’s case demands that we live up to those values.”

“Erick was the victim of a horrific and life-threatening attack,” Scout Katovich, an ECBA associate working on the case, added. “We hope this lawsuit will send a message that ICE cannot violate the U.S. Constitution with impunity.”

To read the complaint, click here. Read the press release, here and coverage of the story on ABC News and the Daily News.

ECBA’s Katherine Rosenfeld and Scout Katovich represent Mr. Diaz-Cruz in the suit.

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Family of Young Disabled Man Who Died in New York State Group Home Brings Federal Civil Rights Suit

This morning, the family of C.B., a young man with cognitive disabilities who passed away in April 2018, filed a civil rights lawsuit against employees of a group home run by New York’s Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (“OPWDD”). C.B. was found dead in his room at the Valley Ridge Center for Intensive Treatment on the morning of April 9, 2018, after Ashley Sessions, a Valley Ridge employee, failed to check in on him during the night as required.

C.B. died from pulmonary embolism and heart failure. The day before his death, C.B. and his mother told State employees he couldn’t breathe. The State ignored him. C.B.’s arms and legs were massively swollen with fluid; he gained 50 pounds in a single year; he exhibited the telltale signs of heart failure. But Staff not only did nothing to help him; they repeatedly encouraged him to drink more fluids, contributing to his death.

Even as Sessions failed to check on C.B. as required during the night of his death, C.B. asphyxiated on fluids in his lungs. Sessions then lied to the police to try to cover up her misconduct. She ultimately plead guilty to the crime of filing false statements.

C.B.’s mother, J.M., federal filed a lawsuit alleging that Valley Ridge employees were deliberately indifferent to C.B.’s health and welfare and that the little medical care they did provide was woefully deficient.

“C.B.’s tragic death should never have happened,” C.B.’s family’s attorney, Ilann M. Maazel, of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, said. “State employees ignored the obvious signs that a disabled man’s health was rapidly deteriorating, then left him alone to die a horrible death in his bedroom. It’s unconscionable.”

“C.B.’s dire condition was plain to see,” added Samuel Shapiro, another attorney representing the family, “but the staff here just didn’t care enough to look.”

Read the complaint here.

ECBA’s Ilann M. Maazel, Samuel Shapiro, and Ali Frick represent C.B.’s family.

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ECBA Files Suit Against Boy Scouts On Behalf of an Eagle Scout Who Was Sexually Abused and Coerced Into Underage Sex Work By His Scoutmaster

On January 2020, ECBA filed suit on behalf of Ronald Hernandez Hunter, an eagle scout who was sexually abused by an Assistant Scoutmaster while participating in the Boy Scouts as an adolescent in Bushwick, Brooklyn in the 1970s.  As detailed in the complaint, the Boy Scouts amassed a trove of records about rampant sexual abuse in Scouting over the course of decades, but failed to institute policies to protect scouts from abuse.  The suit alleges that the Boy Scouts’ negligent approach to selecting and supervising adult volunteers and its deceptive marketing of its programs as a wholesome and safe activity for children allowed Mr. Hunter to be sexually exploited by Assistant Scoutmaster Charlie Acevedo.  Acevedo was later convicted of multiple crimes involving child molestation and is now serving a life sentence in prison in Florida.

As ECBA attorney David Lebowitz told the New York Daily News, “Ron’s case is unusually horrific because he was abused so many times over so many years and trafficked into sex work by his Scoutmaster. Sadly, the underlying story is all too common: Ron lost his childhood because the Boy Scouts failed to protect him and other young men from the sexual abuse they knew was rampant in the organization. If they had instituted common-sense rules and procedures, Ron never would’ve suffered this horrible abuse.”

“Many sexual abuse survivors understandably choose to file suit anonymously because of the continuing shame and trauma,” said ECBA partner Debbie Greenberger.  “Ron’s bravery stands out—he is bringing this case under his own name because he hopes that by reclaiming his story he will inspire other survivors to come forward.  We have brought this case because the Boy Scouts never should have allowed a pedophile like Charlie Acevedo free reign to molest vulnerable boys.”

To read the complaint, click here. To read coverage of the case in the New York Daily News, click here.

ECBA’s Debbie Greenberger and David Lebowitz represent Mr. Hunter in the suit.

 

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