Doctors Protest Outside Hospital After ICE Agent Shoots 26-Year-Old In The Face During New York Operation

Doctors have joined immigration activists in protesting outside a hospital in New York after a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent reportedly shot a 26-year-old man in the face during an ICE operation in Brooklyn, New York.

In a statement sent to Newsweek, an ICE spokesperson said the incident unfolded on Thursday morning during a "fugitive operations" mission in Brooklyn.

The spokesperson said agents were "physically attacked while attempting to arrest" Gaspar Avendano-Hernandez, who is believed to be the boyfriend of the 26-year-old's mother, according to reporting from NBC.

Describing Avendano-Hernandez as a "twice-removed illegal alien from Mexico with a 2011 assault conviction in New York City, the spokesperson said he had been arrested by the New York Police Department on Monday for "possession of a forged instrument, a felony criminal charge."

"ICE attempted to lodge an immigration detainer after his most recent arrest, however the subject was released from local custody before ICE could lodge a detainer," the spokesperson said. "This forced ICE officers to locate him on the streets of New York rather than in the safe confines of a jail."

It is unclear exactly how the incident unfolded, but at some point, at least one firearm was fired by an agent, hitting the 26-year-old, who ICE has not identified, in the face. On Thursday evening, he was still in hospital in serious condition.

Two ICE officers were also transported to a local hospital for treatment, the ICE spokesperson said, while Avendano-Hernandez and a second individual, whose identity has not been released, were taken into federal custody.

In a statement shared with Newsweek, one doctor who showed up outside the hospital where the 26-year-old is being treated said he was outraged to see this incident unfold in his neighborhood.

"The violence that happened is clearly an abuse of power by ICE," said Dr. Aaron Herzog, who is a member of Doctors for Camp Closure, a self-described non-partisan group of doctors opposed to the detention of immigrants.

"Advocacy is part of protecting and supporting our patients," he said. "In medicine we talk a lot about the social determinants of health. Part of the social determinants of health is not being shot in the face by immigration police."

While it is still unclear how exactly the incident unfolded, Ravi Ragbir, the executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition, has questioned: "Why is ICE shooting at anyone?"

"This is a civilian agency, not a police agency," Ragbir said in a statement shared with Newsweek. "And the mere fact that they used a gun and fired a shot is excessive force."

ICE agent
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), agent helps detain an immigrant on October 14, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. ICE has sparked outrage after an agent fired a weapon at a man in his 20s during an operation in New York. John Moore/Getty