New London police assist ICE with capture during foot chase

New London — City police helped Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents capture a Brazilian national Wednesday after the man fled on foot when the ICE agents attempted to detain him outside of the Broad Street courthouse.

Fabricio Daelmeida-Oliveira, 33, of Bridgeport had just appeared at GA10 on a domestic violence charge when ICE agents attempted to take him into custody outside the courthouse entrance, according to witnesses. When he fled, city police who were in the area responded, as did additional officers who were called to the scene, according to police.

Daelmeida-Oliveira was captured on Brainard Street and taken into custody about 11:30 a.m. From there, he was likely taken to the ICE Enforcement & Removal Operations office in the U.S. District Courthouse in Hartford, according to his attorney, Michael R. Hasse, who said he arranged for an immigration attorney to contact Daelmeida-Oliveira.

Hasse said his client is a talented carpenter with a tax identification number and no prior criminal record. Daelmeida-Oliveira, charged with second-degree breach of peace after exchanging slaps with an equally intoxicated girlfriend at Foxwoods Resort Casino in January, had just been granted entry into the Judicial Branch's family violence education program, which enables first-time offenders to have their case dismissed after attending classes. He had paid his fee for the program and walked out the door when he was approached by ICE. Hasse said he was upstairs in the courthouse watching a video of the domestic violence incident and missed the foot chase by seconds.

"They jumped on him as soon as he came out the door," Hasse said. "He almost got away."

The incident shook up the city's immigrant community, whose members immediately spread the word on social media that ICE agents were operating in town and police were assisting them. 

"The New London Police have no business in assisting ICE in apprehending a person," said attorney Marcy S. Levine-Acevedo, who practices immigration law. "I was very surprised to hear the New London Police Department was doing backup. I think it's suspicious that they were magically able to show up within a few seconds."

Levine-Acevedo said she called the mayor's office to complain about the police action.

She noted that a new law takes effect on Oct. 1 that limits police from detaining someone on a civil immigration detainer unless it's accompanied by a warrant signed by a judge, the person is guilty of a serious felony or the person is on a terrorist watch list.

Sgt. Larry Keating had taken two trainees into the GA10 courthouse Wednesday morning to show them around and introduce them to staff, according to witnesses. But police Chief Peter Reichard said they were in a police car in the area when the chase ensued and assisted.

"We assist state, local and federal law enforcement agencies upon request if they have an active criminal arrest warrant," Reichard said. "We don't actively go and look for people with federal immigration detainers or deportation orders."

Several additional police cars went to the area after being dispatched to the foot chase, including Investigator Todd Lynch, president of the police union. He said he arrived at the end of the incident.

"As far as I'm personally concerned, if another law enforcement agency calls for assistance, I'm going to respond, assist and take the proper action and determine the circumstances later," Lynch said. "I'm not gong to jeopardize the safety of other law enforcement officers who are chasing someone in our community."

Hasse said it appears ICE agents are combing through court documents and will look for anybody without immigration papers. He said his client had done the right thing by appearing in court to resolve his case.

A year ago, attorney and former city Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio and about 25 others made up signs and lined the courthouse walkway, where Daelmeida-Oliveira was confronted Wednesday, to protest the practice of agents coming into state courthouses to apprehend undocumented immigrants.

Court observers said ICE agents rarely enter state courthouses anymore to take people into custody. Levine-Acevedo said she recently heard that ICE detained someone who had appeared at GA10 for a motor vehicle violation. She said immigration lawyers from across the country still are discussing the possibility of government raids, and that it's important that people make contact with an immigration attorney and be prepared. 

k.florin@theday.com

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