Bodycam Video Shows Monroe County Deputy Asking Crash Victim His Immigration Status

"The victim needed to be transported to a hospital, not questioned about his immigration status," said the Florida ACLU chapter director

A cyclist hit by a pickup truck at a crosswalk in Florida and cited for the accident was turned over to immigration officials to face deportation, authorities said Thursday.

Marcos Huete Hernandez, a 31-year-old man from Honduras, "darted out" in front of the truck in Key West and was fined $75 for hindering traffic, according to a Florida Highway Patrol crash report for the April 27 incident. The driver was not fined.

Civil rights advocates are condemning the police response because a Monroe County deputy can be heard on bodycam video asking whether the man is "illegal" before offering him medical assistance as he lay on the sidewalk beside his bicycle. Moments later, a second Spanish-speaking officer calls for an ambulance.

"In this case, as we understand, the victim needed to be transported to a hospital, not questioned about his immigration status," said Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union Florida chapter. ACLU of Florida has not taken any legal action.

The man's sister, Olga Huete, says the officers told them to return to the scene of the crash, where her brother was cited and turned over to the Border Patrol. The Florida Highway Patrol did not respond to requests for comment on how they cooperate with immigration officials in traffic cases.

"What they did was inhumane. The way he was lying there and couldn't stand up meant his health came first," Huete said. "It's true, he is undocumented, but the first thing the officer needed to do was to make sure he wasn't injured. But instead, he was fined and sent to the border patrol. We were so confused."

Olga Huete also questions why her brother received the fine when he was riding through a crosswalk without a traffic light or sign.

Miami lawyer Yale Galanter says the officer was within his rights to issue a citation but pointed out "it's very rare that a pedestrian who has been hit by a pickup truck would be the one cited for causing his own injuries."

Marcos Huete Hernandez works two jobs in construction during the day and as a restaurant dishwasher at night, his sister says. He has two daughters in his native Choluteca, Honduras. His sisters have hired an immigration attorney to see if they could halt his deportation. Meanwhile, he is in Krome Detention Center in Miami-Dade County.

Univision reported that he faces a 2010 deportation order and faces charges for re-entering the U.S. after he was expelled. 

CORRECTION (May 26, 2017, 7:59 a.m.): An earlier version of this story misidentified the cyclist. His name is Marcos Huete Hernandez.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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