New Jersey Korean man who was allegedly assaulted with chopsticks by police supervisor settles for $120,000

Palisades Park police
  • A former officer of the Palisades Park Police Department has settled a $120,000 lawsuit he filed against his former superior in July 2021.
  • Samuel Kim, who has moved to the Ho-Ho-Kus Police Department, alleged that his previous boss, Lt. Shawn Lee, bullied and harassed him.
  • Kim also claimed that Lee assaulted him with chopsticks in Lee’s parents’ home in 2019.

A former officer from the Palisades Park Police Department in New Jersey settled a lawsuit for $120,000 last month against his former supervisor, who allegedly bullied him and assaulted him with chopsticks.

In the lawsuit, filed in July 2021, officer Samuel Kim alleged that he was bullied and harassed by his then superior, Lt. Shawn Lee, ever since he started working for the Palisades Park Police Department, according to the Bergen Record.

Kim alleged that Lee “had him run personal errands,” such as picking up his coffee and bringing his daughter to school, while he was on duty. The situation worsened after Kim refused Lee’s request to “fix” a ticket problem his New York police friend had received in the borough in May 2018, NJ reported.

The situation reached its tipping point in 2019 when Lee allegedly said an “exceedingly offensive and derogatory term” in Korean to Kim while they were in the locker room. The lieutenant also invited Kim to his parents’ house, where Kim was assaulted with chopsticks to his head and then choked with a uniform tie, the lawsuit claimed.

Kim reported the incident to a councilman the day after the attack, saying he was “scared for life.” Lee was subsequently suspended without pay for five days in 2020. The lieutenant was also required to attend anger management classes, participate in harassment training, and undertake a psychological evaluation “for fitness of duty.”

Last month’s settlement, which received a 3-0 vote from the borough council’s members and was signed on Dec. 17, 2021, stated that the $120,000 paid to Kim and his attorneys was for “personal physical injuries and/or physical sickness such as headaches, nausea, digestive issues, insomnia, etc.”

As part of the agreement, the borough “makes no admissions as to liability or damages, or any wrongdoing or violations of local, state or federal laws.” Furthermore, Kim had agreed not to take further legal action against Lee and the borough. 

Lee was reportedly promoted to captain and later became the Palisades Park Police Department’s officer-in-charge in May 2021, while Kim is now serving in the Ho-Ho-Kus Police Department.

Officer Kim has moved on to a position with the Ho-Ho-Kus Police Department, where his talents have been well received and profoundly appreciated,” Patrick Toscano, Kim’s attorney, said in a statement. “The Palisades Park Police Department lost a gifted, first-rate officer.”

The case was never about money,” Toscano added. “It was simply about an autarch supervisor at the PPPD who needed to be taken to task and was.”

Featured Image via Highway Patrol Images (CC BY 2.0)

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