WITHOUT A TRACE: Award posted in search for missing NJ man in police custody

Haledon Police announced a $5,000 reward for information leading to what they called the ‘successful location and physical recovery’ of a borough man who disappeared six months ago in this which relatives consider to be mysterious circumstances.

Felix Joel DeJesus, 41, “was last seen congregating with five (5) civilians” at Westside Park behind John F. Kennedy High School in Paterson on Feb. 2, Haledon Police said in announcing the award on Tuesday, August 9.

He was wearing just a t-shirt and pants on a freezing evening in early February.

Haledon Police said they interviewed multiple witnesses and reviewed area surveillance video which, when combined, placed DeJesus in the park shortly after he was briefly arrested by Paterson Police following a disturbance at a bodega in the city.

Haledon Police Chief Angelo J. Daniele pledged his department’s efforts “will not sit idle until Mr. DeJesus is located.”

It all started when Paterson police received a 911 call from a bodega on Union Avenue, where a woman claimed DeJesus approached her.

Paterson’s officers, for some reason, had their body cameras turned off while DeJesus was in their vehicle, sparking what city officials said was an internal affairs investigation overseen by the district attorney’s office. Passaic county.

Video that officers recorded shows DeJesus being handcuffed as he lies face down on a snowy sidewalk.

“My hand is broken,” he told the police. “Papi, it’s broken.”

They get a seemingly drunk DeJesus back on his feet before struggling to get him into the back seat of a police SUV (photo above, left).

“Papi, don’t push me, don’t push me,” he said at one point. “Hey, but you are.”

DeJesus first had his legs through the open back door as he sat there. The officers then struggle to get him fully into the vehicle as DeJesus curses at them, mutters to himself, and tells them again that his hand was broken.

He asks why he is arrested many times but receives no answer to the question.

Eventually, he gets up and settles completely into the back seat.

Both recordings end with DeJesus still sitting handcuffed. There is no video of what happened from that point on.

New Jersey Attorney General guidelines require law enforcement officers to keep their body cameras on while a civilian is in their custody. Why these particular officers turned theirs off has yet to be answered.

Officers recorded their conversation with the woman DeJesus allegedly disturbed at the Union Avenue bodega.

“Let me get your ID and I just need you to write something, okay, saying he touched you and stuff like that,” one told her. “Probable cause form.”

She says she’s “not trying to do all that paperwork…I just know that I went into the store to try to buy something and whoever it was, she grabbed me and turned me around. I don’t know who the fuck it is.

The woman turned out to be an ex-con.

“I just turned three,” she told the officers. “So I’m not into all of the writing reports.”

“Go ahead, damn it,” one replies. “We’ll just haul him out of here.”

A judge ordered the city to release the full tapes after efforts by family members and community activists to obtain them failed.

A family lawyer sued the borough to also obtain documents on the police investigation.

Meanwhile, relatives have attended Paterson City Council meetings to demand answers and engage in heated exchanges with officials.

DeJesus is described as 5-foot-9 and 200 pounds. Authorities are asking anyone who sees or has information that could help find him to contact Haledon Police Detective Sergeant. Timothy Lindberg or Detective Christian Clavo at (973) 790-4444.

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