An autopsy report from the Adams County coroner’s office said the blood clot that killed Melvin Calero-Mendoza was likely related to a previous foot injury.
AURORA, Colo. — It’s been nearly a year since 39-year-old Melvin Calero-Mendoza died at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody in Aurora. A nonprofit that provides legal services to people incarcerated at the facility has filed a lawsuit seeking records after saying a November Freedom of Information Act request was never complied with.
“Our primary purpose in filing the Freedom of Information Act request is to ensure we get information about what went wrong in Melvin’s case so we can make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to some of our customers,” said Laura Lunn, Director of Advocacy and Litigation at Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network.
In her lawsuit against ICE, Lunn said the federal agency violated the law by failing to respond to a FOIA request for nearly 10 months.
According to an autopsy report from the Adams County Coroner’s Office, Calero-Mendoza died on October 13, 2022 from a blood clot likely related to a previous foot injury. He injured his toe while playing soccer at the ICE detention center in Aurora in the summer of 2022. After weeks of swelling in his foot and leg, he collapsed in the facility and died.
The ICE detainee’s death report states that Calero-Mendoza visited the detention center’s nurse three times in the month before his death – and each time the nurse rated his exam as “normal.”
The last time, on Sept. 29, Calero-Mendoza reported “severe pain and swelling on his right calf for two days,” according to the report.
9NEWS health expert Dr. Payal Kohli, reviewed the autopsy report and said it showed a blood clot from Calero-Mendoza’s leg traveled to his lung, stopping blood flow to his heart and causing cardiac arrest.
Kohli said the injury with the pain and swelling should have been a sign for an ultrasound scan to rule out a blood clot.
According to the RMAIN lawsuit, Calero-Mendoza’s death is not the first to raise questions about the facility’s medical care, nor is it the first time that FOIA requesters have filed lawsuits asking ICE to release documents force.
“As we know, Melvin Calero-Mendoza was 39 years old, about my age, and he died very, very suddenly because he did not have access to proper medical care,” she said. “We are trying to request records that will provide a better overview of what is happening in the detention center.”
There was also pressure from Colorado lawmakers.
Congressman Jason Crow and Senators Michael Bennett and John Hickenlooper have sent multiple letters to ICE about Calero-Mendoza’s death. In September they sent another letter to the federal agency demanding more transparency. The letter said an independent review of Calero-Mendoza’s death should be completed on or about April 11, 2023.
“We understand that stakeholders in our constituency have submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records related to Mr. Calero-Mendoza and that this request is several months ahead of the expected completion date,” it said Write. “We encourage you to work with our community members to follow up on the ICE OPR detainee death report.”
A federal court hearing on RMAIN’s lawsuit against ICE is scheduled for Thursday, October 5.
RECOMMENDED VIDEOS: Latest from 9NEWS