PORTSMOUTH — The Town Council Monday night voted to deny a wrongful death claim brought by the mother of a Tiverton man who died following a struggle with Portsmouth police in February 2012.
Without comment, the council voted unanimously to deny payment of the claim and to refer the matter to Rhode Island Interlocal Risk Management Trust, Inc., the town’s insurer.
Attorney Thomas G. Briody filed the claim on behalf of his client, Brenda Raposa, mother of Craig Raposa. The 25-year-old man, who had a history of mental illness, died after he became unresponsive following a Feb. 3, 2012 altercation with police outside his mother’s home at the Bay View Apartments complex on West Main Road.
Mr. Raposa was later pronounced dead at Newport Hospital after being rushed there by Portsmouth rescuers.
In a letter received by the town Oct. 10, Mr. Briody states that Officer Nicholas J. Arruda “wrongfully” placed Mr. Raposa in protective custody that day.
“Mr. Raposa had not committed any crimes nor was he accused of having committed any crimes,” the attorney wrote. “Officer Arruda was grossly negligent in his failure to follow proper protocols for interacting with the mentally ill. Most importantly, once Officer Arruda placed Mr. Raposa in protective custody, (he) and Officer Garrett J. Coyne were grossly negligent in permitting Mr. Raposa to remain lying face down on a parking lot surface with his hands cuffed behind his back for a lengthy period of time.”
According to Mr. Briody, Mr. Raposa suffered cardiac asphyxia and died due to the officers’ actions.
Although Ms. Raposa made a demand for payment from the town to compensate her and her son’s estate, no dollar amount is cited in the letter.
Back in January, the Statewide Grand Jury determined that Portsmouth police were justified in actions taken to subdue Mr. Raposa. The incident was investigated by the Rhode Island State Police with the Office of Attorney General before being presented to the Grand Jury.