A memorial near the Sea Dog Restaurant for Peter Manuel, 22, whose body was recovered from the nearby Penobscot riverbank on June 23. Manuel fell disappeared into the frozen Kenduskeag River, which flows into the Penobscot, on March 2 and was missing for 114 days. Credit: Callie Ferguson

A lawsuit that accuses the Bangor Police Department of repeatedly harassing the 22-year-old black man who drowned in the Kenduskeag in March doesn’t make a legal case and should be thrown out, according to the city’s lawyer.

In an Aug. 23 motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Attorney Frederick Costlow writes that Gary Manuel’s “vague and confusing” complaint doesn’t argue how its many allegations amount to a legal case entitling him to damages under the law.

The complaint “is factually devoid of any allegations or scenarios that would vest [the] plaintiff with any direct and/or personal claims against any of the Bangor defendants,” Costlow wrote in the motion, filed in U.S. District Court in Bangor.

Many of the suit’s allegations focus on the police department’s treatment of Gary Manuel’s son, Peter Manuel, who drowned in the Kenduskeag River March 2 while fleeing police officers who responded to a fight at the nearby Half Acre nightclub. Peter Manuel jumped onto the stream’s frozen surface and rejected help from first responders, who threw him ropes before he slipped beneath ice slabs, police said at the time. His body was discovered in June.

Gary Manuel claims his son, a Bangor High School track star, faced a years-long “pattern of harassment” that culminated in what he called the “chase” that resulted in his son’s death.

His 23-page complaint, filed Aug. 7, also accuses local and state officials of conspiring to keep the Manuel family homeless, subjecting them to a series of abuses and setting up a network of “informants” that led Peter Manuel “down the tube.”

The suit also names as defendants the city of Bangor, the Bangor Fire Department and the four Bangor police officers who responded to Manuel’s drowning.

In its motion to dismiss the lawsuit, the city didn’t respond to or deny any of Manuel’s allegations. A Bangor police spokesman on Friday referred all questions about Gary Manuel’s allegations to the city attorney, who deferred all questions to Costlow, the outside counsel.

Costlow declined to comment on Friday, saying that if the lawsuit moves forward, future filings would address the substance of Manuel’s complaint.

But the Bangor lawyer would like the case thrown out because “it is not entirely clear what causes of action are pursued by Plaintiff Gary E. Manuel,” according to his motion.

Gary Manuel, who is suing the city without a lawyer, said Friday that he has not yet read the city’s motion to dismiss his case.

But “it’s a clear case because they already know what has took place, and it has led to the death of a child, a young person,” he said.

Manuel, who said he is homeless and lives with mental disability, has twice in the past decade tried and failed to sue the city for allegedly conspiring against him and his family.

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Callie Ferguson

Callie Ferguson is an investigative reporter for the Bangor Daily News. She writes about criminal justice, police and housing.