A federal grand jury indicted a Paterson police officer on Friday on civil rights charges of assaulting a suicidal hospital patient with another officer and recording it on his cellphone.
Surveillance video shows Roger Then, 29, of Paterson pushing the victim to the ground this past March after fellow city officer Ruben McAusland punched him in the face while he was sitting in a wheelchair in a hallway at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, the grand jury indictment alleges.
Moments earlier, the victim apparently threw some type of object down the hall.
A second video, shot by Then, shows the victim on his back in a hospital bed, the civil rights violations indictment says.
The victim insults the first officer, who "puts on a pair of hospital gloves and violently strikes the victim twice across the face," it alleges.
He then stood over the victim and said, 'I ain’t f**cking playing with you',” the indictment charges.
A report filed by the first officer doesn't mention the assaults, which left the victim with an eye injury that required surgery and several facial injuries, it says.
"The victim suffered multiple injuries to his face, including an eye injury that required surgery, as a result of these assaults," U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.
Three months ago, McAusland accepted a deal from the government and pleaded guilty both to beating the victim and to selling drugs that he stole from a crime scene.
He may be called to testify if Then's case goes to trial.
The new indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Newark specifically accuses Then of "conspiring to violate an individual’s civil rights; two substantive counts of violating an individual’s civil rights; misprision of felony for concealing the civil rights violation; and falsifying a record for submitting a false police report about the assault."
His arraignment on the indictment hadn't yet been scheduled, Carpenito said.
The U.S. attorney credited special agents of the FBI with the arrest and thanked the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, Paterson police and the city department's Office of Internal Affairs for their assistance in the investigation.
Handling the prosecution is Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Agarwal, deputy chief of Carpenito's Criminal Division, and Lee M. Cortes Jr., Deputy Chief of the Special Prosecutions Division.
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