• Lynda Cohen

Investigation into Atlantic County inmate’s death will clear officers, union says

The death of an Atlantic County jail inmate was not caused by wrongdoing on the part of correction officers, according to a statement from the unions that represent those officers. Mario Terruso Jr., 41, of Mays Landing, died after being taken to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center’s Mainland Campus in Galloway Township at about 7:50 Sunday night, the release said. He was pronounced dead at 1 a.m. Monday. What happened before that is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Attorney General’s Shooting Response Task Force, which also investigates deaths while in custody. “The Attorney General’s Task Force is conducting a thorough and independent investigation of what happened to Terruso, including all actions taken by correction officers and other staff at the jail leading up to and including his transportation to the hospital for treatment,” read a statement released by the office Friday. “While the death of detainee Mario Terruso Jr. is tragic, we are confident that the investigation initiated by the Attorney General’s Office will demonstrate and confirm that our officers’ interactions with Mr. Terruso were professional at all times and Mr. Terruso’s death was not the result of any intentional or negligent acts and/or omissions by our members,” a joint statement released by the the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #34 and #112. No one from the jail has been allowed to comment on the incident, which garnered attention when inmate Alan Wright dictated a Facebook post to his wife, detailing his version of the events. Terruso was arrested on a warrant out of Hamilton Township on Sunday afternoon. At the jail, he was agitated and ill and “was the subject of various actions taken by jail staff responding to the situation” before he was taken to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center’s Mainland Campus in Galloway Township at 7:50 p.m. Sunday, according to the Attorney General’s Office. He was pronounced dead at 1 Monday morning. Alan Wright claimed Terruso was denied medical attention as he begged for water and was seen coughing up blood. “While we would like to correct the many false and misleading statements that have appeared in the news media over the last several days, we are prohibited by internal rules and regulations from commenting on the specific details surrounding Mr. Terruso’s death during an ongoing investigation,” the union statement read. “Given these constraints, it is important to us as professional law enforcement officers that the public recognize that our members acted appropriately and professionally at all times and that we are fully committed to cooperating with the investigation and look forward to the Attorney General’s findings.” There are three camera in admissions, where Terruso was, and at least one officer also had a body camera, Wright said. The Attorney General’s Office said that “all camera footage of the invents have been obtained by” the task force.

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Inmate was laughed at, tied up before dying, friend claims

An Atlantic County jail inmate pleading for help was instead belittled, tied up and punched before he wound up dead, a witness told BreakingAC. Mario Terruso Jr., 41, was pronounced dead at 1 a.m. Monday at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center’s Mainland Campus in Galloway Township, officials said. But his issues started more than two hours earlier inside a holding cell in the Atlantic County Justice Facility’s admissions, said Alan Wright, who was released from the jail late Tuesday night. Read more...

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