Father of man who drowned in Kenduskeag sues Bangor Police Department, officers

A 2012 photo of Peter Manuel while on a high school cross country trip. (Courtesy of Casey Bissell via BDN)

BANGOR (BDN) -- The father of a Bangor man who drowned in the Kenduskeag Stream while fleeing police in March has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Bangor Police Department and four of its officers.

Gary Manuel, the father of Peter Manuel, 22, filed the lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court in Bangor. In the lawsuit, Manuel alleges that his son faced “a pattern of harassment” from the Bangor Police Department, culminating in his death on March 2.

The complaint also alleges that the entire Manuel family was subjected to mistreatment from state officials, that kept the family separated and homeless. Gary Manuel accused the state of surrounding the family and his son with “informants” that lead him “down the tube.”

Peter Manuel reportedly ran from police in the early hours of March 2, when they responded to break up a fight at the Half Acre nightclub. Police said that while fleeing, Manuel hopped a fence and jumped onto the frozen surface of the Kenduskeag. He allegedly refused help from officers and firefighters who tossed him ropes to help him climb out. He disappeared when he slipped beneath the ice.

His body was discovered in June when a boater on the Penobscot River spotted a body by the docks beneath the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge, a quarter mile downstream from where Manuel fell into the Kenduskeag. The body was not positively identified until July.

According to friends, Peter Manuel was a loyal, funny and hardworking person. He stood out at Bangor High School as a track star.

However, Peter Manuel faced obstacles, his friends said. By early high school, his parents split up and left Manuel to fend for himself. He would spend nights at the Shaw House youth shelter and at the homes of classmates.

Despite a difficult and intermittent relationship, Gary Manuel previously told the Bangor Daily News that he and his son “were very close.”

In the lawsuit, Gary Manuel names the State of Maine, the City of Bangor, the Bangor Police Department, Officer Jason McAmbley, Officer Elizabeth Brunton, Officer Thomas Valente, Officer Sam McCarty and the Bangor Fire Department as defendants.

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