The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department is going toe-to-toe with federal immigration officials over the release of a suspected gang member who is accused of killing a San Francisco father and his two sons last month in a road rage incident.
As the suspect appeared in court Monday, the question that lingered was how he fell through the cracks.
Immigration officials say Edwin Ramos was mistakenly released by San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, last spring and quite possibly could have been in custody instead of on the streets during last month’s triple homicide.
Immigration, Customs and Enforcement officials in Los Angeles say they have an electronic log between their office and the sheriff’s office in San Francisco that shows deputies released Ramos from custody before they were contacted.
But San Francisco Sheriff Mike Hennesy disputes ICE’s claims and says the federal agency is trying to deflect blame.
“They’re saying this because they’re feeling some heat,” says Hennessey.
“For example, in the past 18 months I’ve turned over 1100 people to ICE, so it’s not like we have a system that doesn’t work.”
Ramos was arrested last march on weapons charges. Those charges were later dropped.
ICE officials say their log shows Ramos was released at 1:49 a.m. on April 2nd. Almost two hours later, San Francisco Sheriff’s officials sent an electronic query to Los Angeles ICE officials concerning Ramos’s immigration status. At 5:12 a.m., ICE responded Ramos was in deportation proceedings.
Later that morning, ICE says it placed a “detainer hold” on Ramos, but by then he was already back on the streets.
Sheriff Hennessey doesn’t buy ICE’s version of events.
“This guy’s was the classic notification. He came in on a violent felony. His booking card indicated he was not a U.S. citizen. His booking card indicated he was not born in this country,” argues Hennessey.
San Francisco police say on June 22nd Ramos shot and killed Tony Bologna and his two sons, Matthew and Michael, after their car blocked his on a street in the Excelsior neighborhood.
Hennessey says ICE may be trying to blame the city when immigration authorities already knew deportation hearings were ongoing against Ramos.
“Relations between ICE and the San Francisco local officials aren’t that great to begin with, because we are a sanctuary city,” explains Hennessey. “They don’t like that, so they take every chance they can to swipe our sanctuary ordinance. I do know that.”
Ramos was back in court Monday morning to enter a plea, but that was postponed. Defense attorney Robert Amparan asked Judge Lucy McCabe to once again delay a plea to triple homicide charges for his client. He is facing the possibility of life without parole or the death penalty, if convicted.
Amparan also asked the judge to place a gag order on the proceedings after a weekend story in the San Francisco Chronicle claimed that Ramos was an illegal immigrant and a gang member who had escaped deportation after he committed two violent crimes as a juvenile because of San Francisco’s controversial shelter law.
“I can tell you that he did not enter the country illegally. I can tell you that he married a U.S. citizen and was in the process of getting his citizenship,” says Amparan. “Because of the way my client, Mr. Ramos, is being portrayed in the media, his rights are being violated. False information is being placed out there.”
Ramos is set to return to court on Wednesday to again enter a plea and for the judge to rule on the gag order motion.
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