Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Family, Friends Say Last Goodbye to Man Shot by Hackensack Police

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Family, Friends Say Last Goodbye to Man Shot by Hackensack Police

Article excerpt

Raymond Peralta-Lantigua's mother knelt beside his white casket Friday evening, her face inches from his, kissing him and stroking his hair and speaking to him in a low voice as the funeral home in Passaic slowly filled with mourners.

It would be the final time Rosalva Lantigua would see her son's face in the flesh. His body was to be transported for burial in the Dominican Republic after the service.

Peralta-Lantigua, 22, was killed by Hackensack police during an altercation at the family's city home a week ago. Minutes before her last moments with her son, Lantigua stood outside, talking to reporters, her voice steadily rising as she called for change in how local police interact with citizens, like her son, who have mental health problems.

"Many children need help," she said, speaking in Spanish. "We call police to assist us, not to kill."

Hackensack police on June 11 responded to a call placed by Lantigua from her Johnson Avenue home, saying that Peralta-Lantigua was out of control, that he was breaking things in the house and had taken up a kitchen knife.

Lantigua had called police with similar complaints in February and October. She said in an interview with The Record that her son had struggled with anger and depression and had sought treatment at Bergen Regional Medical Center in Paramus in April.

Police Director Michael Mordaga said that when officers arrived, Peralta-Lantigua was on the front porch with a kitchen knife in his hand. Mordaga said he threw a "softball-sized" rock that struck a patrol car and then charged Officer Hisham Sheikh, who first backed away and then fired two shots at Peralta-Lantigua when he kept advancing. Mordaga said that the officer was in "immediate danger" and that his actions were appropriate.

The mother's account of the events preceding the shooting diverges somewhat from Mordaga's: She said her son was not rushing at the officers. …

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