Felix “Joel” DeJesus was 41 years old when he went missing on February 2, 2022. He was last seen by 5 people around the lower end of Westside Park at 9:30 p.m., after he was brought to the area by Paterson, New Jersey police officers. These officers’ names have not been released. The last sighting of him was behind John F. Kennedy High School near the foot-bridge to McBride Avenue in Paterson.
Reports state that earlier, at about 8:55 p.m., he was “bothering a woman” inside of a bodega on Union Avenue after drinking too much alcohol, and was taken away in handcuffs by two Paterson police officers after they confronted him about touching the shoulder of the woman in the store. His family members say they initially learned about Felix’s interaction with police from the owner of the bodega while they were distributing flyers in an effort to find him. Felix had a drinking problem, and this was not the first time he had been intoxicated in public.
Due to unrelated incidents within the Paterson police, The Internal Affairs Division was already investigating the department, so they also became involved in Felix’s case. They confirmed to the family that Felix DeJesus was driven from the bodega in a police patrol vehicle. The two officers then dropped him off near the corner of Preakness Avenue and Front Street in Paterson without charging him of any crime. The officers claim that Felix asked to be dropped off at this location.
Felix’s two younger brothers say the Paterson police should have taken him to a hospital, his home, or a shelter the night they picked him up. It was argued that the officers put Felix in jeopardy by “leaving the heavily intoxicated man to fend for himself on a winter night so close to the Passaic River.” The temperatures dropped below freezing that night. The Passaic River has been searched several times, and no evidence of Felix was found.
The Haledon police have announced that they are conducting their own independent missing persons investigation into Felix’s whereabouts.
Authorities have refused to publicly show video recordings from the body cameras worn by the cops who interacted with Felix. Police have also failed to provide an incident or interaction report for this case. A meeting at the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office showed his family just 4 minutes of one of the officers body cameras. In that video, Felix was said to be shivering on the ground, asking for help. Other sources say the video also showed the officers handcuffing Felix while he is struggling and screaming.
Felix is described as a Hispanic male, 5’09” in height, 170-200 lbs with black hair and brown eyes. He has a large Puerto Rican flag tattooed across his chest. He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and black sweatpants. His date of birth is listed as 7/3/1980.
Felix’s family is begging for answers.
If you have any further information, please contact the Haledon Police Detective Bureau at 973-790-4444 or please visit firstname.lastname@example.org.