The policewoman who shot an erratic man outside of the Frank X. Graves Public Safety Complex in 2016 was justified in her use of non-fatal deadly force, according to a statement from Passaic County prosecutor Camelia Valdes.
Police officer Haydee Santana was cleared by a Passaic County Grand Jury in early January, authorities said on Friday in response to an inquiry from the Paterson Times. The grand jury declined to issue an indictment finding her use of force against Larry Bouie, 43, of Newark to be justified.
Bouie was outside of the complex on Oct. 29, 2016 at about 6 p.m. His pants were down to his knees as he yelled at pedestrians on the sidewalk, ran into traffic, and rolled in middle of the street, according to a dozen witnesses interviewed by authorities.
Witnesses told investigators Bouie was mumbling, incoherently shouting, throwing himself on the ground, striking the ground with his fists, throwing dirt from planters outside the department, yelling on the sidewalk at pedestrians, running into traffic, scooting and rolling in the middle of the street, attempting to get in front of cars, and yelling words like “help” and “no” while two females tried to calm him.
Authorities said witnesses described Bouie as showing signs of being under the influence of drugs. No toxicology tests were conducted prior to medical treatment.
Just before Santana’s arrival, Bouie was on the ground. As she exited the marked interceptor, Bouie stood up and began to walk towards her, according to witnesses interviewed by investigators. A dozen civilian witnesses, who had direct information about the shooting, were interviewed. His family members were also interviewed.
Police witnesses also provided reports and statements, said authorities.
Bouie began rapidly advancing towards Santana with clenched fists, shoulders and arms in muscle-flexing positions, while screaming, flailing his arms, witnesses told investigators.
Santana told investigators Bouie made eye contact with her as he charged at her like a football player making a tackle. Santana began to back up towards her vehicle. Some witnesses heard or saw the officer make attempts to stop Bouie, said authorities.
Santana fired a single shot at Bouie several feet from her, according to authorities. No weapons were recovered from Bouie. Police officers responded to the scene and rendered aid to Bouie, said authorities. He received treatment for his injuries at facilities in Passaic and Essex County.
Bouie underwent skin grafting, two life-saving surgeries, physical therapy, and will require additional treatment in the future, his attorney said last year.
Santana, who has been working for the city for 24 years, was not injured.
Investigators from the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office canvased the neighborhood, submitted ballistic evidence, examined physical evidence, and reviewed medical records. Also, they reviewed video footage, 911 and radio transmission, and phone records. The results of the investigation were presented to the grand jury, said authorities.
Bouie’s shooting sparked a small protest in downtown Paterson. He has since filed a lawsuit seeking $10 million in damages from the city.