FORT LEE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — For Adam Kim and Kevin Jun it started as a wild high school house party but quickly turned into what they call a night of misery.
They were two of five teens that were left locked up inside a police van for 15 hours. Now, two of them are planning to sue the borough of Fort Lee and its police department.
“It was cold so we tried to huddle up together,” Jun told CBS 2’s Kristin Thorne.
The two, along with three other party-goers, were left locked inside a Fort Lee Police van for more than half of a day.
“In the beginning we thought it might have been procedure. It was clear in an hour or two later that they left us in there,” Jun said.
That van was parked just outside the police department, but their screams went unanswered. As the 20 degree-plus night wore on, the cramped steel van turned ice-cold. Worse still, nature kept calling.
“Eventually during the morning we did into this other compartment of the van but it still was there and it smelled really bad,” Kim said.
It was 3:30 the next afternoon when their constant calls finally got a response from a passerby. A stunned Fort Lee officer found the frozen, hungry and traumatized kids.
“When he opened the door he was just speechless,” Jun said.
That was small consolation for the families. They plan to file lawsuits against the borough and police department for psychological damage.
“We entrust the police to take care of our children and they’re the very same people who put them in harm at this point,” attorney Sarah Bernstein said.
The police department is now going through its own surveillance video to try to figure out what exactly happened that night. The mayor of Fort Lee said they will get to the bottom of this.
“We’re going to find out the facts and I have sneaking suspicion this is what we’re going to find out — that the proper procedures are in place and they weren’t followed,” Mayor Mark Sokolich said.
It may have been a breach of procedures with potentially costly consequences.
Three Fort Lee Police officers have been suspended with pay.
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