NEWARK, N.J. – A City of Paterson police officer today admitted concealing the assault of an attempted suicide victim by another police officer at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Police Officer Roger Then, 29, of Paterson, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court to Count 4 of the indictment against him, charging him with misprision of felony, for concealing the civil rights crime committed by his partner, Ruben McAusland.
According to documents filed in this case and another case and statements made in court:
Then and McAusland were police officers with the Paterson Police Department. On March 5, 2018, they responded to a call from an attempted suicide victim. The victim called 911 and was taken by the Paterson Fire Department to St. Joseph’s Medical Center. Then and McAusland responded to the victim’s residence and subsequently followed the Fire Department to the hospital to monitor the victim.
Two videos captured some of the events that took place in the hospital that night. In the first video, captured by hospital surveillance, the victim was in a wheelchair. McAusland was standing at the hospital admissions desk. The victim appeared to throw an object down the hallway. McAusland, looking angry, pushed the victim’s wheelchair with his hands and punched the victim in the face. As the victim fell towards the ground, still in the wheelchair, Then grabbed the victim by the back of the neck and further pushed the victim to the ground. Then reached for his handcuffs, but McAusland told Then not to handcuff the individual and McAusland further stated, “I got this.”
In the second video, taken by Then, using his cellular telephone, the victim was on his back in a hospital bed. The victim said, “Right here? See my cheek?” McAusland said, “You have the right guy today.” Then turned the camera toward himself and smiled. Then next turned the camera back towards the victim and McAusland. The victim said, “Ha, ha, bitch.” McAusland responded, “I’m a what?” The victim said, “Do it.” McAusland put on a pair of hospital gloves and proceeded to violently strike the victim twice across the face. McAusland then stood over the victim and said, “I ain’t fucking playing with you.” The victim covered his face with his hands and was silent. McAusland continued, “Calm your ass down.” Rather than intervening to stop McAusland’s assault of the victim, Then recorded it.
Then and McAusland submitted a police report in connection with the events of March 5, 2018. The police report did not mention that McAusland punched the victim and that Then grabbed the victim by the neck and pushed the victim towards the ground, as captured in the first video. The police report also did not mention that McAusland violently struck the victim, twice, in a hospital room, as depicted in the second video. Nor did the police report mention that Then had recorded the second assault on his cell phone and failed to intervene to stop it from happening.
The victim suffered multiple injuries to his face, including an eye injury that required surgery, as a result of these assaults.
McAusland previously pleaded guilty to possessing with intent to distribute narcotics and deprivation of civil rights under color of law. He is awaiting sentencing.
The misprision of felony count carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for March 12, 2019.
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 guilty plea. 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. Attorneys Rahul Agarwal, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division, and Lee M. Cortes Jr., Deputy Chief of the Special Prosecutions Division.
Defense counsel: John P. McGovern Esq., Newark