Teen Locked in Police Van Sues Borough, Fort Lee Police, Report Says
The attorney for one of the five teenagers left locked in a police transport van nearly two years ago filed a civil lawsuit in Newark.
A Fort Lee college freshman, who was among five minors left locked in a police transport van outside the Fort Lee Department in March 2011, has filed a civil suit against the borough, the police department and several police officers, according to a report.
Adam Kim was 17 on March 26, 2011, when he and four other teenagers were left in the van for more than 14 hours in freezing temperatures and without food, water or bathroom facilities.
Kim is seeking a jury trial, compensatory and punitive damages and contends in the lawsuit filed in federal court that police detained him illegally and violated his civil rights, NorthJersey.com reported.
Now former Fort Lee Police Chief Thomas Ripoli, who retired Monday after reaching the state-mandated retirement age of 65, is named in the lawsuit, along with at least 12 Fort Lee police officers, according to the report.
Three Fort Lee police officers were suspended almost immediately after the incident pending disciplinary hearings. Police also launched an internal investigation that Fort Lee officials said was concluded in late April 2011.
Officials said that at least eight police officers were disciplined in light of the investigation; borough administrator Peggy Thomas told Patch at the time that three officers received “major disciplinary action,” and that “about five more” received “minor disciplinary action,” adding that officials couldn’t release further details.
Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich said in 2011 that at least one demotion was involved, along with “multiple days of suspension without pay.”
“A conclusion was reached as to what occurred, and it was determined that it was human error—nonetheless, an error,” Sokolich said.
Kim’s attorney, Nancy Lucianna, who filed a notice of claim—a pre-requisite to filing a lawsuit—in April 2011, told Patch at the time that the notice of claim has to be filed within 90 days but that a lawsuit can be filed up to two years after the incident.
“If they don’t give us an offer of settlement, we’re definitely going to file,” she said in June 2011.
Lucianna says Kim continues to suffer from emotional problems, including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress, nearly two years after the incident and has to take medication, according to the NorthJersey.com report.