By LIZ SADLER, LARRY CELONA and KIRSTEN FLEMING
Last Updated: 10:38 AM, May 21, 2010
Posted: 3:46 AM, May 21, 2010
The father of a troubled civil servant who jumped to his presumed death from the Brooklyn Bridge after a police Taser misfire said yesterday he believes the cops bungled the operation.
"I'm thinking that [the police] might not have handled it well because they let him fall into the river," said Felix Onyenwe, whose son Chukwudi's body still has not been found.
Four cops — including a lieutenant — tried in vain to subdue the mentally ill man, but he fought them off.
At one point, they had him surrounded and tried to cuff him, but Onyenwe wrestled his way out of their grasp and headed straight to the exterior of the bridge.
Cops tried to talk him down, but the depressed man jumped.
"I'm devastated," said his father.
His suspicions came as investigators pored over surveillance video and photos to see if police acted properly on the bridge Wednesday morning, sources said.
The Manhattan DA's Office is looking for witnesses to the dramatic events, which unfolded in the middle of the span's busy Brooklyn-bound roadway, the sources said.
The tragic chain of events began when a woman found Chukwudi Onyenwe, who worked for the city's Human Resources Administration, masturbating in the ladies room of his office building at 151 West Broadway in TriBeCa. She called 911, but Onyenwe fled.
An hour later, several 911 callers reported the emotionally disturbed man was on the bridge, dodging in and out of traffic.
After the struggle to restrain Onyenwe on the bridge failed, the lieutenant told everyone to back off and fired his Taser, which malfunctioned.
That gave Onyenwe, 29, his chance to jump.
He headed to the exterior of the bridge, where he stripped naked.
Desperate cops made a last-ditch effort to talk him down, but he ignored them and plunged into the East River.
Law-enforcement sources said a faulty cartridge in the Taser gun was to blame, and cops are checking to see if there are other broken devices in circulation.
Felix Onyenwe — a public health adviser at a city Department of Health clinic in Brooklyn — said his family lost another son to an accident in 2007, and his wife was unaware of the latest tragedy because she's visiting their native Nigeria.
He said his son — a graduate of New York City Technical College in Brooklyn — suffered from depression for "many years" and was on medication.