Paterson: Lawsuit Over Police Interaction With The Emotionally Disturbed


In their ongoing wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Paterson, lawyers for Jameek Lowery recently won a federal court order giving them access to Internal Affairs records in three high-profile Paterson police shootings of people who were emotionally disturbed, including two that resulted in the deaths of Saulo Del Rosario in 2012 and Ramon Andrade Lowery lawyers cited the 2016 police shooting of Larry Bouie, who survived.

Jameek Lowery died Jan. 7 2019 after being taken from police headquarters to St. Joseph’s Medical Center. Authorities have not yet released an autopsy revealing the cause of his death. The Lowery legal team is claiming that the Paterson Police Department failed to provide its officers with sufficient training to deal with people with emotional problems and should have been aware of that failure because of prior “instances of excessive and unreasonable force.”

“These instances similarly involve allegations of officers using excessive force on emotionally disturbed individuals without provocation and absent any reasonable attempts to de-escalate the situation and not exacerbate the person’s emotional distress,” contend Lowery’s lawyers.

The Lowery court filings claim that years of police use-of-force reports showed a pattern of Paterson officers using greater amounts of force on people they encountered who were emotionally disturbed than on those who were not.

The Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office has said Lowery, 27, died from an adverse reaction involving illegal drugs he ingested and a preexisting medical problem. But Lowery’s son’s federal lawsuit claims he died from injuries inflicted when Paterson police officers struck him while they restrained him on an ambulance gurney.

Lowery had recorded a frantic social media post at Paterson police headquarters saying he was paranoid from drugs he took and that cops wanted to kill him. He lost consciousness during the ambulance ride from police headquarters to the emergency room at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Paterson and died two days later.

The city’s lawyers unsuccessfully tried to stop the Lowery legal team from getting access to the Internal Affairs records on the Del Rosario, Andrade and Bouie cases. Paterson asserted that each of those shootings involved circumstances much different from Lowery’s death and that the term “emotionally disturbed” should not be applied in a such a sweeping manner.

“Plaintiff essentially seeks for this Court to be moved by emotional rhetoric in lieu of fact,” wrote the city’s legal team. “No court can be blinded by such trivialities.” Moreover, the city lawyers contended that Lowery was “not emotionally disturbed…Plaintiff was high from voluntary drug use.”

United States District Court Judge Andre Espinosa issued an order on Dec. 8 saying the city was required to provide Lowery’s lawyers with the Internal Affairs records on the Del Rosario, Bouie, and Andrade cases.

Paterson previously approved payments to settle lawsuits filed in two of those cases — $425,000 in Del Rosario’s death and $450,000 in the Bouie shooting. There was no litigation in the Andrade shooting.

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