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Thursday, February 29, 2024
Courthouse News Service
Thursday, February 29, 2024 | Back issues
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Schizophrenic Shooting Case in NJ Advanced

(CN) - New Jersey police must face claims that they delayed treatment for a black man they fatally shot and kept handcuffed while comatose, a federal judge ruled.

The shooting occurred on May 25, 2011, miles from a home in Bridgeton, N.J., that Willie Gibbons was not supposed to enter because of a no-contact order taken out just the day before by the mother of two of his children.

Troopers say they shot Gibbons, a diagnosed schizophrenic, twice in the abdomen sometime after 9 p.m. because Gibbons had a gun.

One of the troopers said Gibbons had the gun pointed at his own temple.

Gibbons' family meanwhile claims in a federal complaint that the police waited 15 minutes to call paramedics after the shooting.

The father of three was comatose when help arrived, and paramedics could not treat the man's stomach wound immediately because his hands were cuffed across his front, they say.

Gibbons was pronounced dead at 1:28 a.m. on May 26.

Among other things, the second amended complaint asserts excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment and cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

Last week U.S. District Judge Joseph Rodriguez dismissed all but the claims for excessive force, withholding medical treatment, and a custom and practice of racial or ability-based discrimination insofar as it seeks injunctive relief.

"Plaintiffs have failed to state facts showing that deadly force was used against Gibbons on account of his race and/or disability," the Dec. 2 decision states. "The court acknowledges that the NJLAD makes it unlawful to subject people to differential treatment based on race and mental or physical disability. However, unsupported conclusions and unwarranted inferences do not establish sufficient facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face."

Representatives for Gibbons' family and the state attorney general did not return emails seeking comment over the weekend.

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