Rosalio Ramos-Ramos, 37, was being sought by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) late last year and was almost turned over when an apparent lack of communication between police and Harborview Medical Center resulted in his discharge from the Seattle trauma hospital, Kent police said.
Chief Ken Thomas said police arrested Ramos-Ramos in October after he reported being involved in a sexual assault. Officers did not find any evidence of an assault, but found a drug pipe and a small amount of methamphetamine on Ramos-Ramos. They booked him into the Kent Jail in connection with misdemeanor drug possession, Thomas said.
Once at the jail Ramos-Ramos told officers he wanted to die then started fighting with corrections staff. Ramos-Ramos he said was taken to a nearby hospital then to Harborview for a head injury, according to Thomas.
While Ramos-Ramos was at Harborview police learned his identity. Thomas said officers were soon contacted by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). “We initially did not reach out to ICE,” Thomas said. “They looked out at the booking log, saw he was in custody and they reached out to us.”
According to ICE, hospitals are “sensitive locations,” places they don’t take enforcement action unless exigent circumstances exist.
Jorge Baron, executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, says he’s seen ICE take people into custody at hospitals. “The general policy of ICE about the fact there are some situations and locations where they’re generally not going to make arrests, but there are exceptions to that policy,” Baron said.
Kent police said they called Harborview daily to keep tabs on Ramos Ramos, but he was released without them knowing.
An ICE spokeswoman told KOMO over the phone Friday that the agency didn’t have information on the Tukwila man. When asked about why ICE didn’t put an officer at the hospital to watch over Ramos Ramos, she questioned why Kent police didn’t do the same.
Thomas told KOMO he has a small department and can’t take an officer off the streets for several days to watch over a man accused of committing misdemeanor crimes in his city. He said they promised to keep tabs on Ramos Ramos on behalf of ICE by calling the hospital. He said they planned to pick the man up once he was discharged and turn him over to the feds.
“I believe this person needed to be off the streets. He had been deported four times prior, he is a convicted felon and he’s a very violent person,” Thomas told KOMO during an interview on Thursday.
Harborview, in a statement, said they had no duty to give information to police over the phone. “When we care for patients who are incarcerated or under the custody of law enforcement, it is the role of the law enforcement agency to guard the patient while they are hospitalized. This particular patient was not under guard when he was released from the medical center last fall after five days of hospitalization. We also follow federal privacy laws that dictate the amount and type of patient medical information that we can release.”
King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Scott O’Toole said in the second-degree murder charges he filed against Ramos-Ramos that the man has multiple aliases and birthdates. He told KOMO that the man’s green card appears to be fraudulent.
h/t Weasel Zippers