Perth Amboy to Pay Family of Mentally Ill Man Killed by Police $350K

PERTH AMBOY – Lawyers for the city and the family of Dixon Rodriguez have agreed on a settlement of $350,000 in the fatal shooting of a mentally ill 32-year-old man six years ago, according to court documents.

Superior Court Judge Melvin Gelade approved the dismissal of the wrongful death lawsuit with a settlement on July 10, the day the trial was set to start, court records show. Both sides agreed to end the legal battle in late June.

“It is an unfortunate event for all those concerned, including the police officers,” said Adam Cruz, Perth Amboy’s business administrator. “At this time, there is an agreement in principal, but it is the City’s understanding that the paperwork to finalize the agreement has not been completed.”

Rodriguez was shot and killed by Perth Amboy police on Dec. 4, 2013, after a brief encounter outside his Hall Avenue apartment.

Police said Rodriguez lunged at the officers with a knife, but his death outraged many in the community who said he was a harmless unemployed local and questioned the authorities’ story.

Rodriguez’s mother, Asela, had called 911 to report that her son had become violent after he stopped taking his medication.

The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office investigation into the incident found two officers — Gina Fontan and Rafael Puntiel — were justified in their use of force in the incident after reviewing the evidence, which included video from a surveillance camera from about 40 feet away.

The prosecutor’s office refused to release the video, calling it a criminal investigatory record, but it was eventually released two years later as a result of the lawsuit.

The grainy surveillance footage from the deli across the street showed Rodriguez speaking with the two officers before lunging at Fontan, knocking her to the ground as she shot at Rodriguez.

Puntiel then shoots and kills Rodriguez.

Gary Chester, the family’s attorney, has accused police of planting the knife. Chester could not be reached for comment.

Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz has stood by her officer since the incident.

Puntiel retired on disability in December of 2014, according to state pension records. Fontan is not listed on the city’s payroll.


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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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