New Jersey Cops Beat a Suicidal Man So Badly That He Required Surgery

During the first week of March, two police officers were dispatched to a home in Paterson, New Jersey, where a man was reportedly threatening suicide. Members of the local fire department were also on the scene, and they took him to a nearby hospital with both police officers in tow.

Not long after the suicidal man was hospitalized, quickly unfolding events left the man with severe injuries to his face and an eye — and left him in need of surgery,†according to FBI investigators. How did this situation escalate to the point of extreme violence?

According to the brief report filed by the two officers involved in the incident, the man had become ďcombative,Ē and he was wielding a boxcutter.†Police added that they then restrained the man with the help of hospital staff. This, of course, does not entirely explain the manís extensive injuries.

As it turns out, the actual series of events was rather different. Thanks to hospital security footage, as well as cellphone video taken by one of the involved officers, a fairly clear story has emerged.

Security cameras at the hospital†documented the first attack made against the suicidal man. At this point, the man was seated in a wheelchair in a waiting room. He can be seen tossing an item down a nearby hallway, apparently provoking one the officers who then shoved the seated man before punching him and sending him to the floor.

A second video, recorded by Officer Roger Then on his own cellphone, depicts a second attack — this time in the patientís room. After the man hurls an insult at the officers, the other officer — who remains unnamed — can be seen putting on gloves before viciously assaulting the man in bed.

Thanks in no small part to these videos, Officer Then recently faced arrest by FBI agents on charge of conspiracy to violate civil rights by using excessive force. New Jersey itself will also†charge†Then with concealing a crime. Together, Then may face up to 13 years in prison,†in addition to a $250,000 fine.

Though the other officer has yet to face any charges, officials say he is no longer on active duty.

While the victim in this case survived his encounter with police, there are an alarming number of suicidal and mentally ill people who wind up dead at the hands of officers dispatched to help them. Given this frequency, it seems to be less a series of unfortunate incidents and more†of a trend.

Then whatís the problem?†Do police lack the proper training to help suicidal people without escalating the situation? Perhaps the curious case of the police officer from West Virginia who was slandered and eventually fired for refusing to kill a suicidal man could provide an answer — illustrating how, in at least some departments, officers are instructed to treat the mentally ill.

Officers who have forgotten what it means to protect and serve must be fire,†without exception. Fortunately, the FBI has begun to take interest in problematic departments like Paterson Police Department.

Take Action!

It’s important that the FBI holds both men responsible for brutally assaulting a suicidal man in March, not just Officer Then. He or she must be named and must face the same charges as Then; merely being discharged from active duty is not justice. Add your name to†this Care2 petition to ensure that justice prevails!

Concerned about an issue? Want to raise awareness about an injustice? Join your fellow Care2 users by learning how to make your own petition and make your voice heard today!

Photo Credit: ChiccoDodiFC/Thinkstock

37 comments

Clare O
Clare O'Beara4 months ago

not the police I grew up with....

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Clare O
Clare O'Beara4 months ago

you have very strange police

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Clare O
Clare O'Beara4 months ago

th

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Janis K
Janis K4 months ago

Signed!!

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Muff-Anne Y

Mental illness needs to be dealt with better than this.

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Winn A
Winn Adams4 months ago

Petition already Signed

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Philip W
Philip W4 months ago

These officers should have been trained not to take offense at people who are suffering mental anguish, especially when they are under duress. Their actions are so childish, vengeful, and completely without compassion.

Being suicidal is not a normal state of mind, there could have been any number of reasons why a person is in a distraught state of mind.

At least these 2 officers will be able to brag to their cell mates about beating up someone who was suffering.

I wonder what would have happened if these officers had been trained to not take offense but to take care to help and comfort, to understand that people in pain will sometimes lash out at others.

"It is compassion rather than the principle of justice which can guard us against being unjust to our fellow men." - Eric Hoffer

"Compassion is probably the only antitoxin of the soul. Where there is compassion even the most poisonous impulses are relatively harmless. One would rather see the world run by men who set their hearts on toys but are accessible to pity, than by men animated by lofty ideals whose dedication makes them ruthless. In the chemistry of man's soul, almost all noble attributes - courage, honor, hope, faith, duty, loyalty, etc. - can be transmuted into ruthlessness. Compassion alone stands apart from the continuous traffic between good and evil proceeding within us." - Eric Hoffer

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Roslyn M
Roslyn McBride4 months ago

I'm sure being beaten up will help the patient feel less suicidal. Some help, that is.

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Debbi W
Debbi W4 months ago

When did police departments stop training proposed officers? If they don't put them through a training, do they at least put them through a battery of test to weed out those with mental problems and/or anger issues and bigots. As has been stated of the racism problems in this country, it's starts at the top. If those in charge are racist, bigots, have no problem with their officers brutaly beating people, they will. The officers will what they know is acceptable in the department.

That poor man, who was attacked, then needed surgery, never should have been attacked. Any decent police officer would have tried talking to him. They never should shoot or start punching first. Those are signs of aggressive and angry people.

If brutality is a problem in your town, complain loud and long. Get your neighbors and friends to work together to force a change. Use the media.

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Shirley S
Shirley S4 months ago

noted with disgust

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