BROOKLYN (CN) - After killing an emotionally disturbed New Yorker who claimed to see God, police falsely claimed he was high on heroin and came at them with scissors, the man's mother claims in a federal complaint.
Adela Pagan filed the complaint on Thursday, four months to the day of 51-year-old Mario Ocasio's fatal encounter with police at his home in the Bronx.
She says Ocasio's girlfriend, Geniece Lloyd, had called 911 for an ambulance on June 8 because Ocasio was staring out the window of the apartment chanting, "I see God!"
When at least seven officers and emergency personnel rolled up, they failed to demonstrate any compassion for a mentally disabled citizen, according to the complaint.
Pagan says they beat her son with batons, shot him with pepper spray and twice deployed a stun gun, killing him within an hour after their arrival.
Ocasio was in cardiac arrest and had gone still during the encounter, but no one tried to resuscitate him, according to the complaint.
Pagan says one of the officers instead told an emergency medical technician that Ocasio was high on heroin, and ordered that he be given a shot of Narcan to counteract the heroin, plus the sedative midazolam.
She notes that Midazolam is the one of the drugs used to administer the death penalty.
Cops and EMTs were then slow to respond after Ocasio went limp, then carried his body out of his apartment, Pagan claims.
"At no time did any of the officers make any attempt to provide emergency care to Mario," the 25-page lawsuit states.
Pagan says the New York City Police Department and EMT workers failed to follow protocol when dealing with people with mental illness.
NYPD brass "should have been aware of the past unlawful, reckless and wanton treatment received by persons with mental illness from the police officer defendants and other NYPD police officers, yet failed to adequately supervise or train with respect to such treatment, including but not limited to the need for patience, the requirement that a supervisory officer be present, the need to involve family members as appropriate in the encounter, and the safe and proper use of equipment and restraint techniques," the lawsuit says.
"The persistent and widespread failure to adequately supervise and train NYPD personnel constitutes deliberate indifference that caused the assault, mistreatment and death of Mario," Pagan adds.
Calling the problem rampant in New York City, Pagan goes on to cite at least seven wrongful-deaths incidents since 1999 involving people with mental illness at the hands of the NYPD.
Pagan says one witness used a cellphone to record the whole ordeal, but that police confiscated the device and never returned it.
When Ocasio's family showed up at the 52nd Precinct to find out what happened to Ocasio and retrieve the confiscated phone, they were kicked out, according to the complaint.
Though the medical examiner initially listed Ocasio's cause of death as "cardiac arrest," the doctor has since changed that determination to "pending" because the NYPD is stonewalling his efforts to see the video footage, the lawsuit states.
Pagan says the Bronx District Attorney's office has also been no help in her effort to file criminal charges against the officers and EMTs.
In an effort to cover its own hide, meanwhile, the NYPD launched a public-relations campaign to demonize Ocasio in the media. In addition to leaking details about Ocasio's criminal past, the police released false reports that Ocasio was wielding scissors and was high on heroin, according to the complaint.
Pagan notes that, within hours of the department's release, The Wall Street Journal reported that "A scissors-wielding man in the Bronx died in New York Police Department custody Monday morning used a Taser to subdue him and emergency personnel gave him anti-heroin medications, a law enforcement official said."
A spokesman for the NYPD declined to comment on pending litigation.
Represented by Israel Adam Burns, Pagan seeks damages for civil rights violations, negligence and wrongful death.
She names New York City, the NYPD and Emergency Medical Services as defendants.
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