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Lawsuit filed against arresting officers in New Bedford man's death


NEW BEDFORD (FOX 25 / The family of a New Bedford man who died while in police custody is suing five New Bedford police officers.

On July 22, 2010, a gas station clerk called the police asking for help for 42-year-old Erik Aguilar.

Once on the scene, an officer engaged in conversation and attempted to handcuff Aguilar. The officer then put Aguilar on the ground and pepper sprayed him.

An investigation revealed that Aguilar lay face down on the ground handcuffed for eight minutes outside while the five officers stood nearby. The investigation also revealed that Aguilar had stopped moving, but an ambulance was not called until nine minutes later. CPR was also not performed until four minutes after officers realized Aguilar did not have a pulse.

Aguilar died as the result of cocaine and alcohol intoxication.

Aguilar's family filed a civil rights and wrongful death case accusing the officers of ignoring Aguilar's medical needs, which resulted in his death. The family's attorney is reportedly using surveillance footage from the night to back these allegations.

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell declined to immediately respond to the lawsuit's specifics, but said the city "takes very seriously the matters raised."

FOX 25 used the surveillance footage in a January 2012 story. To view the video, click here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.