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Video shows ICE agent booting the migrant during workplace raid

An ICE agent puts a foot on the neck of a migrant during an arrest.

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The video shows a Honduran migrant named Geronimo Guerrero from the lawsuit being chased through several rooms and eventually being taken down by two agents. Two agents attempt to restrain him by pulling his hands behind his back, but he shows no signs of resistance. The video then allegedly shows an officer, later identified in court documents as John Witsell, placing his foot on top of the migrant’s neck for 25 seconds. At first glance, Witsell seems to be exerting force.

Migrants’ lawyers accuse Witsell of using excessive force. The video’s content is “unacceptable,” according to Frank Figliuzzi, an NBC News contributor and former civil rights supervisor for the FBI in San Francisco.

Figliuzzi argued that putting one’s boot on another person’s neck is not something that would be taught at any police academy unless the officer was in imminent danger.

At the end of the video, Guerrero seems unharmed as he walks away, but Figliuzzi warns that carrying “that kind of weight” around one’s neck can cause breathing difficulties. It is unclear if Witsell was disciplined for the incident, but he was subsequently interviewed by ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) about it. A deposition taken by the OPR featured testimony from Francisco Ayala, Witsell’s partner at the time, who stated that “there was no reason” for Witsell to put his foot on Guerrero’s neck.

During a raid on April 5, 2018, in Bean Station, Tennesse, an ICE agent stands with his boot on a migrant’s neck.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the nearly 100 migrants who were detained by ICE officers in the April 2018 raid in Bean Station, Tennessee, as part of a crackdown on workplaces by the Trump administration. The suit claims that the migrants’ civil rights were violated due to the aggressive tactics employed by ICE officers, such as the excessive force applied by Witsell to Guerrero.

In spite of objections from the U.S. government and ICE’s legal team, the judge recently ruled in favor of releasing the video.