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Fort Lee Student Files Suit Claiming Police Department Violated Civil Rights

Fort Lee Police

Five teens claim they were locked in a Fort Lee Police van for 15 hours. (Photo: CBS 2)

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FORT LEE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A civil suit has been filed in federal court, saying several Fort Lee police officers violated the civil rights of then-17-year-old Adam Kim and four other teens.

The teens were arrested in March 2011 and the lawsuit contends the group was left in a police van overnight in freezing conditions.

WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reports

“There was no bathroom, there was no facility to stretch, no standing room, none of that sort. And that’s where we got where we were. Fifteen hours is a long time for anybody, let alone 20-degree weather in a t-shirt and jeans,” Kim’s attorney Nancy Luciana told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney.

Kim is now in college, but Luciana said he still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from the incident.

Kim’s lawsuit alleges that Fort Lee’s police department violated his civil rights by falsely arresting and illegally detaining him and four others.

“It was a breakdown of a system that should have been in place. What happened here is he was left in a van for 15 hours. There was some kind of issue with the chain of command that night, there was a change of shift of some sort and something went wrong,” Luciana said.

The complaint from Kim also says officers used racial slurs referencing Asian-Americans.

“I hope that the right thing happens here. I hope that this never happens again to anyone,” Luciana told Putney.

Kim is suing for unspecified damages.

An internal investigation launched by the Fort Lee police last year found that the officers did not act with malice or discrimination, but the cops were punished for failing to follow procedure.

One officer was demoted and three others were hit with either suspensions or sanctions.

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