Roger Then, who joined the Paterson Police Department almost two years ago, became the fourth police officer to be charged with corruption in less than two months on Wednesday morning for allegedly assaulting a man and filing a misleading police report, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.
Then, 29, of Paterson, is charged with conspiracy to deprive person of civil rights and misprision of felony. Both charges stem from an early March incident at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center.
On the night of Monday, Mar. 5, 2018, the victim, a city resident, called police after attempting to commit suicide. An ambulance responded and transported the man to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center.
Then and Officer 1 responded to the victim’s home. Both officers later responded to the hospital. One video, captured by the hospital’s surveillance cameras, shows the victim in the emergency room waiting area in a wheelchair.
Police Officer 1, who is unnamed in charging documents, is standing at the admissions desk.
The victim appeared to throw an object down the hallway. Officer 1, who appeared angry, ran towards the victim, and cocked his arm as though he was going to punch him, according to charging documents.
Officer 1 did not initially punch the victim. He pushed the wheelchair with his hands and then used his right hand to punch the victim in the face. As the victim was falling to the ground, still in his wheelchair, Then allegedly grabbed him by the back of the neck, and pushed the victim to the ground.
A second video captured by Then shows the victim on his back in a hospital bad.
“Right here? See my cheek?” the victim taunts the officer.
“You have the right guy,” replied Officer 1.
Then turns the camera towards him to capture a big smile on his face, according to charging documents. He then turned the cellphone camera towards the man in the bed.
“Ha, ha, bitch,” the victim tells the officers.
“I’m a what?” asks Officer 1.
“Do it,” dares the victim.
Officer 1 put on hospital gloves. He “violently” attacks the victim twice across the face, according to charging documents.
“I ain’t f–king playing with you,” Officer 1 tells the victim following the attack.
The victim covered his face with his hands and became silent.
Both officers filed a police report that did not mention their alleged attacks on the victim.
Their report stated the victim cut his left wrist with a box-cutter to commit suicide. It further stated, the victim, who their report says suffers from a history of psychiatric issues, became “combative” and threw medical glove boxes at the staff.
The victim was restrained by the officers and the security staff, says both officers’ report.
The victim suffered injuries to his face and eyes that required surgery, according to authorities.
Then faces a maximum of 13 years in prison if convicted.
Police director Jerry Speziale said Then, who joined the force in Jul. 2016, has been placed on unpaid suspension.
The unnamed officer called Police Officer 1 is no longer on active duty, according to authorities.
“This is not indicative of the Paterson Police Department,” said Speziale. He said police initiated the investigation with the FBI to “clean house.”
In April, the FBI arrested three police officers — Ruben McAusland, 26; Jonathan Bustios, 28; and Eudy Ramos, 31, all three Paterson residents, on corruption charges.
McAusland was charged with dealing drugs from his marked police vehicle. Bustios and Ramos were accused of conspiring to deprive individuals of their civil rights under color of law.
Bustios and Ramos allegedly stopped motor vehicles, detained people, conducted car searches without justification. In some cases, both men took cash and other items without justification before releasing the detainees.
Earlier in the month, police officers Frank Toledo and Matthew Torres were placed on unpaid suspension as a result of the on-going corruption probe.
Speziale could not say whether other officers have been suspended as a result of the probe.
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Report updated at 12:57 p.m.