Investigation into assault on lawyer ongoing

The investigation into the alleged assault of a Platte County immigration attorney by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent late last month is moving forward with the Department of Homeland Security at the helm.

An investigator from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) met with Andrea Martinez Monday at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Kansas City. Her law partner, Megan Galicia, was scheduled to be interviewed by the OIG investigator on Tuesday. Interviews with the ICE agent accused of assault, Everett Chase, are expected later this week.

For Martinez — a Platte City native — the weeks since the June 26 incident have been surreal, she said.

“Nothing is normal anymore,” Martinez told the Citizen. “Now our lives are just consumed with this.”

The story went viral worldwide quickly, but started at the ICE Enforcement and Operations Removal Office on Ambassador Drive. Martinez was there to reunite her 3-year-old client, Noah Bautista-Mayorga, with his pregnant mother, Kenia Bautista-Mayorga, just before the two were deported to Honduras. The family entered the United States seeking asylum in 2016 because Kenia Bautista-Mayorga feared abuse from her husband in Honduras.

Protestors and a documentary crew recorded the incident that followed, when Martinez and Galicia attempted to follow the boy and his step-father, Luis Diaz-Inestroza, who were being escorted by Chase, into the office.

“I was following him inside when he turned around and pushed me,” Martinez said after the incident. She and Galicia fell onto the wet concrete sidewalk, with Martinez rolling her right ankle in the heels she wore and scraping her other leg.

In the video, Chase can be seen locking the door and going inside, but after a few moments he turns and comes back to the door. The witnessing crowd can be heard reacting in the video and Martinez shouted at the closed door. Chase unlocked the door and allowed only Martinez inside.

Once inside, she said she and Diaz-Inestroza — who was later taken into custody to begin deportation proceedings — were locked in a room where she was denied access to first aid for about 40 minutes.

Martinez was eventually carried out of the building on a stretcher and transported to the hospital, where she learned she had a cracked metatarsal in her right foot. Since, Martinez said she was experiencing dizziness and was diagnosed with a mild concussion. She underwent an MRI to check for damage to her cervical spine (neck) and is taking antibiotics for treatment of an infection in the abrasion she suffered on her left foot during the incident. She said she learned her broken foot will not require surgery, but healing could take 8-12 weeks.

“I’m very interested to see how this investigation goes,” Martinez said.

While several videos of the alleged assault exist, Martinez said she believes the best angle — and audio evidence — was captured by the documentary crew. However, obtaining that evidence is proving to be a challenge. Martinez and Diaz-Inestroza were both fitted with microphones, recording the entire incident, but the documentary crew has held this evidence close to the vest.

Martinez said the producers have told federal investigators that keeping the video and audio is their First Amendment right. So, legal action against the production company may be forthcoming.

While most of the media attention has been centered on Martinez, she continues her work to assist the family separated and deported by ICE. Later this month, members of her husband’s family, who are also from Honduras, will fly to their home country and return the luggage that Noah and Kenia Bautista-Mayorga were forced to leave behind in Kansas City.

Diaz-Inestroza is currently in custody in Morgan County, Mo., though he was transferred to Platte County for a few days last week. Martinez said she is seeking a bond hearing for Diaz, who has no criminal history.