Local lawyer describes being shoved by ICE officer

The national media spotlight has again descended on Platte County, this time due to an incident involving a Platte City native and immigration attorney allegedly assaulted by an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer.

Andrea Martinez — the daughter of well-known travel agents Mark and Mimi Comfort of Platte City — said she was shoved to the ground by an ICE agent last week, causing a broken ankle and a week’s worth of headlines.

“It’s weird having my ankle matter so much, but this brings to light the injustices and atrocities ICE is committing on a daily basis,” Martinez told the Citizen.

Martinez was representing 3-year-old Noah Bautista-Mayorga, who was to be reunited 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.

Martinez said the case had already attracted media attention when Kenia Bautista-Mayorga became one of the first pregnant women detained by ICE after a policy change in April. She spent about a month in the Platte County Detention Center before her deportation. Due to this attention, the reunion was scheduled for the early morning hours of Tuesday, June 28 at the ICE Enforcement and Operations Removal Office on Ambassador Drive.

At about 3:30 a.m. and with a light rain falling, Martinez, her law partner Megan Galicia, Noah Bautista-Mayorga and his step-father Luis Diaz-Inestroza arrived at the ICE removal office. About 30 protestors and several media outlets were also there, including a documentary crew associated with Netflix, which has been covering the case.

“We planned to meet in the parking lot,” Martinez told The Citizen just hours after the incident. Shortly before their arrival, Martinez said she received a call from ICE changing the plan. “We were told we have to come inside.”

In the parking lot, ICE removal agent Everett Chase began to escort Diaz-Inestroza — who was holding the blanket-wrapped Noah — inside the building. Martinez said she and Galicia followed, as did the documentary crew.

What happened at the door was filmed by the crew, and several other bystanders and protestors. Since, videos depicting the scuffle have surfaced on social media, though Martinez believes the documentary crew likely captured the best angle of what she says truly happened.

“I was following him inside when he turned around and pushed me,” Martinez said. 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.

“It was dehumanizing, and I felt physically unsafe,” Martinez said, as she was a woman trapped alone in a room with a man who had just assaulted her. “This ICE officer caused trauma not just for Noah but for our entire legal team.”

Martinez – a 1999 graduate of Platte County High School – said she listened to Chase speak to Federal Protective Service officials on the phone, threatening to handcuff her.

When her foot began to swell, Chase called an ambulance, but she said the ambulance crew was unable to enter the building for some time.

“I was taken out on a stretcher and taken to St. Luke’s North,” she said. At the hospital she was treated for a cracked metatarsal in her right foot and abrasions to her left ankle and knee.

Late that day, ICE issued a statement that any allegations against ICE personnel are taken seriously.

“Until a review of the documentary evidence is completed, ICE can issue no further public comment on the matter,” the statement reads.

According to Platte County prosecuting attorney Eric Zahnd, any number of agencies could potentially investigate the incident, including the Kansas City Police Department or Platte County Sheriff’s Office. A local investigation such as this could be referred to his office or a Kansas City municipal prosecutor for prosecution.

However, the incident could instead be investigated by federal authorities and any results of that investigation handed over to the United State Attorney’s Office.

Martinez said she believed the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General would be investigating the case. Due to an early holiday deadline, the Citizen was unable to confirm any active investigation before press time.

This incident shows that even Platte County is not untouched by the immigration crisis, Martinez said.

“My foot got broken, and that’s bad for me, but I’m an attorney and there were cameras all around,” she said. “Just imagine what happens to these immigrants when there is no one to speak for them and there are no cameras around. This shows how rogue ICE can be right now.

“The separation of families is happening not just at the border, but here as well, and it’s happening every day.”