FILE – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and NYPD police officers (Kendall Rodriguez/for New York Daily News)
By Wes Parnell, NY Daily News
ICE agents stormed a Brooklyn restaurant and released a cloud of caustic pepper spray to nab an undocumented immigrant worker, unsettling video of the bust shows.
The agents barged into La Cabana, a Spanish eatery on Flatbush Ave. near Beverly Road in Prospect Park South on March 1 and nabbed Maria De Los Angel Sanz Pimentel, a Dominican immigrant without a work visa, according to ICE and officials.
On the video — posted on Twitter — Pimentel can be heard coughing and seen on the ground surrounded by ICE agents, who then eased the dazed woman back to her feet. A gaggle of onlookers, meanwhile, is seen scrambling to record the mayhem.
“They entered where she was, they threw her to the floor and two men were on top of her and they sprayed her with pepper spray,” alleged Pimentel’s sister, Jenny Sanz, who traveled from Florida to New York after she heard her sister had been detained. “The violence isn’t necessary. I don’t why they were using so much force.”
The video was denounced by elected officials and advocacy groups.
“The fact that officers would barge in and pepper spray her is outrageous,” said Brooklyn Democratic state Sen. Zellnor Myrie, who posted the video on Saturday. “They came here to work and be a productive part of this community… It’s so incredibly painful this is where we are at… we have arrived at a point where if we as a society do not condemn these sorts of actions we will be in trouble.”
THREAD – This is video (6min total) from an ICE raid at a RESTAURANT in Flatbush. I am enraged and heartbroken. These agents pepper sprayed the woman they detained, blocked the worker from recording, & made no effort to explain what was happening to her in Spanish. (1/4) pic.twitter.com/dUpSEhwDdG
— Senator Zellnor Y. Myrie 米维 (@zellnor4ny) March 7, 2020
ICE said they nabbed Pimentel because she’d overstayed a visa that expired Sept. 22, 2019, and was flagged following her Feb. 25 arrest for a fight with a friend at a bar. She released without bail in that incident, the NYPD said.
“A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Fugitive Operations Team discharged oleoresin capsicum, more commonly known as OC spray, while attempting to arrest Maria De Los Angel Sanz Pimentel, an illegally present Dominican national,” ICE officials stated. “This was after Sanz Pimentel resisted arrest…”
“During this enforcement action, ICE officers were within the scope of their law enforcement duties and acted with professionalism and respect to ensure the safety of all parties involved,” the statement added. “On scene, officers maintained effective communication with Sanz Pimentel and bystanders by ensuring them she would be afforded all courtesy to include a translator during processing. Although the scene became chaotic with bystanders, officers continued to conduct themselves with professionalism to ensure the scene remained safe.”
Pimentel was taken to Hudson County Correctional facility to await her immigration proceedings, according to her sister.
“She (Pimentel) feels very sad. She feels afraid because we have never been through anything like this. I just tell her to stay calm because we will be here for you but she’s nervous,” said Sanz. “Its good that her coworkers filmed the incident because now people can see who ICE really is and how they act.”
“Why does she have to be taken and why does she have to be taken in such a violent way? she is not a killer. She never did anything,” she added.
The incident comes at the heels of a botched-raid-turned shooting in Brooklyn last month that garnered national attention after an ICE agent open fired on an unarmed immigrant.
It is always good to know what your options are available, given your particular situation. Hence, persons needing more information should consult a good immigration lawyer or tune in to Ask the Lawyer Radio Show on Thursdays from 10:00pm – 11:00pm or Sundays from 11:00 pm–12:00am on WVIP 93.5 FM. Also, for a FREE consultation or to refer a client, visit www.askthelawyer.us