SAN FRANCISCO — Lawyers at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy have sued the federal government on behalf of the family of an Oakland artist shot and killed with a gun stolen from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Antonio “Tony” Ramos, 27, was gunned down on Sept. 29, 2015, in West Oakland while working on a community anti-violence mural project. According to the complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Ramos’ murderer, a member of a gang that claimed the mural’s location as its territory, shot him using a stolen Glock 26 9mm handgun. The gun was a government-issued duty weapon that belonged to an ICE officer that was stolen about two weeks prior to Ramos’ murder. The officer left the gun in a bag in an unattended rental vehicle.
“It was foreseeable that leaving a bag in plain sight in a rental vehicle parked on the street in a high-auto theft and break-in neighborhood would result in the vehicle and/or bag’s theft, and thereby result in the theft of a firearm and ammunition, in this case specifically,” wrote Cotchett Pitre’s Alison Cordova. “It was also reasonably foreseeable that a firearm and ammunition once stolen, would then be used in the near future to pursue a criminal course of conduct.”
The complaint cites a January 2010 Inspector General report that discovered an “alarming” number of missing weapons from agencies within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which includes ICE. The report found DHS lost a combined 289 firearms in fiscal years 2006 through 2008, or about a firearm every four days. ICE and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection accounted for nearly 85 percent of that total and the report found that 179 weapons lost were due to an officer’s failure to properly secure it.
In a phone interview Thursday, Cordova said DHS knew about issues surrounding the securing of its guns five years prior to Ramos’ murder and “yet we’re still seeing the failure to properly store and secure a weapon.”
The wrongful death lawsuit, brought on behalf of Ramos’ parents, Teresa Lopez and Red Ramos, seeks reimbursement for their son’s medical bills, funeral costs, as well as lost contributions to their household and damages related to the traumatic loss.
Cordova said “that loss of love and companionship is really what is most important.”
“It’s really heart-wrenching,” she said. “This is a young kid who just gave a lot to his community.”