Police officer kept from returning to duty after shooting suspect sues Paterson | Paterson Times Paterson Times

Police officer kept from returning to duty after shooting suspect sues Paterson

By Jayed Rahman
Published: September 23, 2019

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A longtime police officer, who was prevented from returning to duty after being cleared by a grand jury for shooting a suspect, has filed a lawsuit against the city.

Haydee Santana filed the lawsuit against the city on Sept. 16. She is accusing the city and police of discrimination. Her employment with the police department had been put in limbo after the Oct. 29, 2016 shooting of a suspect outside the Frank X. Graves Public Safety Complex.

Santana was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation and grand jury determination. She should have been provided critical incident stress counseling, says the lawsuit, but was not.

Her status was changed from administrative leave to sick leave without an explanation on Dec. 1, 2016, says the lawsuit.

On Oct. 16, 2017, she was contacted by Internal Affairs to attend a fitness for duty exam. After getting the phone call, she called headquarters to ask how she was listed in the monthly detail. She learned she was listed as sick or injured as of Oct 29, 2016.

“No other officer involved in a shooting was ever placed on sick leave,” says the lawsuit. She began to fear for her employment. She attended the Oct 20, 2017 fitness for duty exam. She claims the Internal Affairs stopped communicating with her thereafter.

Her pay was stopped on Dec. 15, 2017.

Santana should have been sent for a fitness for duty exam after a grand jury cleared her on Jan. 11, 2018 and put back on the force, says the lawsuit. The lawsuit accuses the police department of failing to follow standard policies and procedures.

Public safety director Jerry Speziale could not be reached for comments on Monday morning.

Santana filed a grievance in Jan. 2018, but never heard back, says the lawsuit. Her attorney sent a letter to the city on Jan. 30, 2018 to correct the situation. She also publicly discussed the situation in Feb. 2018. The lawsuit states after a story was published the city restored her pay for a month.

Santana had been working for the police force since 1994. In all those years, she has never been the subject of any disciplinary actions, says the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is seeking her reinstatement in the police force. She is also seeking backpay and legal fees.

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