A mentally disturbed Puerto Rican man was deported to México by immigration authorities who coerced him into signing release documents, an explosive lawsuit filed Wednesday charges.
Mark Lyttle, a U.S. citizen who erroneously told prison officials in North Carolina in 2008 that he was born in México, signed deportation papers, the lawsuit filed by American Civil Liberties Union alleges. The mistake by Lyttle - whose family says he suffers from developmental disabilities - prompted immigration authorities to deport him to México.
His journey took him through towns - and prisons - in Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala before his family helped him return four months later.
"The government failed to protect Mr. Lyttle, and individuals who lacked the proper training and oversight violated Mr. Lyttle's constitutional rights," the lawsuit said. The government does not have the right to deport U.S. citizens."
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Atlanta and seeks damages from the federal government and people ranging from Obama administration officials to immigration agents. It also asks for a jury trial.
The U.S. Department of Justice said it would review the complaint. ICE, meanwhile, declined comment through a spokesman.
Lyttle, 33, was arrested on charges of inappropriately touching a female orderly at a psychiatric hospital. He was sentenced to 100 days in August 2008.
Soon after, "he reported his place of birth as Mexico City, México," said Keith Acree of the North Carolina Department of Corrections.
Lyttle's family remains skeptical that he would identify himself as Mexican.
"I couldn't believe that, honestly," said Lyttle's brother David, who is 31 years old. "That doesn't even make sense."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.