U.S. Attorneys Office for District Of New Jersey and Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division File Statement of Interest in Religious Land Use Case Involving Orthodox Jewish Congregation
NEWARK, N.J. – A City of Paterson police officer was arrested today for allegedly participating in the assault of a patient at a Paterson hospital, recording the conduct on his cellphone, and failing to include the assault in the related police report, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Roger Then, 29, of Paterson, was arrested by federal agents this morning and charged by complaint with conspiring to violate an individual’s civil rights and with misprision of felony for concealing the civil rights violation. Then is scheduled to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda D. Wettre in Newark federal court.
According to the complaint:
On March 5, 2018, Then and another Paterson police officer – identified in the complaint as “Police Officer 1” – responded to a call from an attempted suicide victim. Then and Police Officer 1 met the victim at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson.
In the hospital surveillance footage, the victim, while in a wheelchair, appears to throw an object down the hall. Afterwards, Police Officer 1 pushes the wheelchair and punches the victim in the face. As the victim falls, Then grabs him by the back of the neck and pushes him to the ground.
In the second video, which was allegedly taken by Then using his cellphone, the victim is on his back in a hospital bed. After the victim verbally insults Police Officer 1, Police Officer 1 puts on a pair of hospital gloves and violently strikes the victim twice across the face. Police Officer 1 then stands over the victim and says, “I ain’t fucking playing with you.”
Then and Police Officer 1 filed a police report in connection with the events of March 5, 2018. The police report did not mention that Police Officer 1 punched the victim or that Then grabbed the victim by the neck and pushed him towards the ground, as captured in the first video. The police report also did not mention that Police Officer 1 violently struck the victim in a hospital room, as depicted in the second video.
As a result of these assaults, the victim suffered multiple injuries to his face, including an eye injury that required surgery.
The conspiracy to violate civil rights count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The misprision of felony count carries a maximum potential penalty of three years in prison. Both counts are also punishable by a fine of up to $250,000.
The charges and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s arrest. He also thanked the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes, the Paterson Police Department, under the direction of Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale and Police Chief Troy Oswald, and the Paterson Police Department Office of Internal Affairs, for their assistance in the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Agarwal, Deputy Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division.