A lawyer representing the family of an Emeryville muralist who was fatally shot last year announced Thursday that he was filing a claim against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) over the fact that the gun used to kill the artist was stolen from an agent's vehicle.
Attorney Frank Pitre of the law firm Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy told reporters that he was taking steps towards filing a lawsuit against ICE on behalf of the family of Antonio "Tony" Ramos. The 27-year-old street artist was killed last September with a gun that an ICE agent had not properly stored.
"This is a problem, regrettably that has happened far too often, and it's something that's plagued the department of Homeland Security, including ICE," Pitre said. "Out of the 243 weapons deemed lost, those guns were lost because officers did not properly secure them."
Ramos was killed on Sept. 29 while working on a large anti-violence mural on the West Street underpass in North Oakland. Witnesses said that before the shooting, Ramos was talking with a man, later identified as 20-year-old suspected serial robber Marquise Holloway.
Holloway was subsequently arrested and charged with Ramos' murder, and the firearm that was used in the shooting was on Holloway when he was picked up by police. The 9mm Glock 26 pistol was later identified as one stolen from the ICE agent's car weeks before the shooting.
Pitre said the gun was left in a car, inside a bag without any locks, which is a violation of mandatory policies regarding the securing and storing of a firearm.
"Guns stolen from law enforcement officers who do not have their weapons secured end up in the wrong hands and the regrettable result is that people are killed," Pitre said. "These people don't take these guns for target practice, they take them to commit crimes."
Pitre also represents the family of Kathryn Steinle, the 32-year-old San Francisco resident who was reportedly shot and killed by an undocumented immigrant last July. The shooting suspect, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, allegedly used a gun stolen from the vehicle of a ranger from the federal Bureau of Land Management.
On Sunday, FBI agents scrambled to locate a .40-caliber Glock handgun that was stolen from an agent's vehicle in San Francisco's Alamo Square. They located the handgun on Tuesday and the suspected thief was arrested.
A representative from ICE did not reply to requests for comment on Pitre's claims by press time. UPDATE: ICE public relations officer Lori K. Haley wrote KQED to say, "Per our agency’s policy, we are unable to comment on pending litigation."
Holloway will appear again in court for a hearing on Monday.