An illegal immigrant allegedly killed a Colorado man less than two months after being released from prison on other charges, federal immigration officials said, according to KDVR-TV.
Ever Valles, 19, was arrested Oct. 20 on charges of possessing a weapon, vehicle theft and eluding a police officer, the Denver Post reported.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a detainer following Valles' arrest, telling the Denver Sheriff's Department to notify federal immigration authorities before the suspect's release. But ICE said Friday night its request to be notified "wasn't honored" when Valles was released Dec. 20. after posting $5,000 bond.
Officials at the Denver jail said they sent a fax message to the local ICE office at 11:33 p.m. on Dec. 20. But, according to ICE, the message wasn't received until 12:37 a.m. on Dec. 21 — about 30 minutes after Valles was freed. Thus, ICE agents were not at the jail when Valles walked out.
Less than two months later, Valles was one of two men charged in the death of 32-year-old Tim Cruz. Police said Valles and one other man, identified as Nathan Valdez, robbed Cruz at 1 a.m. outside a light rail station near Denver. Both Valles and Valdez wore masks and backpacks when they allegedly robbed Cruz at gunpoint. One of the two men then shot Cruz, killing him, the Denver Post reported.
Surveillance cameras at the light rail station where the early morning incident occurred captured the two men walking along the platform.
#Denver, do you recognize these suspects from this morning's homicide? Please call @CrimeStoppersCO w/ any info tha… https://t.co/PfDuwWlqs9— Denver Police Dept. (@Denver Police Dept.)1486498956.0
Valles was arrested two days later when he reportedly told police he "did not know why" Valdez shot Cruz. Valles said that after the shooting Valdez told him he "saw too much." That's when Valles said he ran away, asking Valdez not to shoot. But Valdez fired anyway, clipping Valles' hip, according to KUSA-TV. Valdez, who is also 19, was arrested Feb. 10. Both men were charged with first-degree murder and aggravated robbery.
According to KDVR-TV, Valles is a “known gang member" and was previously flagged by the agency as as "immigration enforcement priority."
In a statement Friday, the Denver Sheriff's Department pushed back on the notion that it was in any way responsible for allowing Valles to go free.
"Denver has never and will never advocate for felons to remain on our streets — immigrants or not. We are part of the criminal justice system and do not hold people on civil matters," the sheriff's department said, referring to 8 U.S. Code § 1325, which classifies "improper entry" by an immigrant as "civil" offense, rather than criminal.
Mayor Michael Hancock said during his state of the city address in January that Denver is not a "sanctuary city." The mayor's statement came after President Donald Trump issued an executive order threatening to withhold federal funds from any city that knowingly harbor illegal immigrants.
Mayors of other large cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City and Boston spoke out against Trump's executive order, embracing the "sanctuary city" label. Miami Mayor Carlos Giminez, however, heeded the president's warning and revoked the city's "sanctuary" policy.
Hancock delivered a statement via YouTube Jan. 27, in which he seemingly walked back his previous claim.
“If being a sanctuary city means that we value taking care of one another, and welcoming refugees and immigrants, then I welcome the title. If being a sanctuary city means families and young ‘Dreamers’ live with hope and not fear, then Washington can label us whatever they want,” Hancock said, referring to the estimated 1.8 million children brought to the U.S. as children and allowed to stay in the temporarily under a 2012 executive order issued by former President Barack Obama.