The suspect is also deceased, at this time. The suspect has been identified to be a 21-year-old Hispanic male from California.. The man has no known ties to any organized crime group, and ICE’s investigation into the circumstances of his death as well as any prior criminal involvement regarding Owen’s death has not been completed. This is a very complex and tragic investigation. We would ask that anyone viewing this online file to remember that the perpetrator/s are human and that this type of violent behavior is only an isolated event by one individual.. not reflective of the ICE community as a whole.. It is also important to remember that while we and others have repeatedly called out ICE for their excessive use of force, and the excessive threat against immigrant communities, no individual may be immune. As you will see below, there are individuals throughout ICE who are doing far more than are being publicly criticized for the excessive use of force on the immigrant community.
The incident on October 31 occurred around the time of the president’s immigration speech in Phoenix. According to the Associated Press , a young man of Mexican descent, named Joseph Avelino Cardona (BONN-ah-vahn), who was living in the country illegally, was picked up and thrown to the ground by eight ICE officers because he refused to provide a Spanish translation of his immigration papers. Cardona was treated at the scene of the interaction, where he was hospitalized, before being removed by ICE on the advice of doctors. Cardona’s case drew a lot of attention after it was publicly reported that he was killed. His death was also used to further call attention to ICE’s excessive force issues which was then extended to explain why the man died. Two days later on November 1, the Washington Post published an article headlined “Man died of self-inflicted strangulation in ICE custody,” detailing the details of the case, including Cardona’s death, and concluding that “Immigration and Customs Enforcement has a problem, one that it won’t be able to solve by simply deporting every person currently in detention, as President Trump has proposed.” In response, ICE Director Sarah Saldaa called the Washington Post’s story, “reckless” and “untrue,” because Cardona was not actually killed by ICE despite the story’s depiction of him as doing exactly that.
In the wake of these articles, Cardona’s family and community mobilized to demand that information be released about the case and “for the truth to be told” about the circumstances of his death.
However, over 12 days later a new report in the Sacramento Bee (8/10/16) revealed that Cardona suffered a non-fatal heart event while in ICE custody just days after his death. The report revealed that Cardona was being transferred from Sacramento County Jail to ICE custody in the Sacramento Valley when his heart condition unexpectedly worsened. Two other cases of “self-inflicted strangulation” in non-fatal heart attacks were also investigated by ICE one involving another female and the other with a male on Sept. 1, 2016 . Cardona’s family disputes that he died of a heart attack, rather than a non-fatal heart attack as previously asserted by the Sacramento Bee.
In his letter dated Oct. 4, 2016, ICE Acting Executive Daniel Vasquez said that the Washington Post’s claims that Cardona was dead from a heart attack “are baseless and clearly intended to mislead the public.” He said that no medical records were found in the cell where Cardona was found. He added that Cardona’s death, along with a fourth incident that occurred Sept. 25 involving Cardona, left the agency “a little confused” about what happened to Cardona and what happened to the other three individuals and the incident.
In explaining that the agency does have some questions about the other three incidents, Vasquez said he is “not sure what the cause or nature of these other incidents was. It could be that a very high temperature, perhaps in excess of the body temperature, caused a heart attack or a violent injury.” He concluded: “We are still investigating the circumstances of the other three incidents, our medical findings were inconclusive, and now there are two more cases that we have some questions about.”
In further clarification, Vasquez also stressed that Cardona appears to have been transferred by the police department instead of directly to ICE custody. He wrote: “There is no indication on the video that a decision was made not to detain the individual by the police department. Our investigation by our Medical Examination Unit has identified that the officer who happened to come into contact with this individual did not choose not to detain the individual and was the one who placed the individual in our custody.”
As noted by some sources, Cardona also died of a stroke in a hospital the day after his death. On the day