Home News Another lawsuit filed against police captain accused of beating officer with chopsticks

Another lawsuit filed against police captain accused of beating officer with chopsticks

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Pictured from left to right Capt Shawn Lee, SPO Eunjin Cho SPO Jason Shin SPO Michael Lee & Capt Anthony Espino (OIC).


Anthony G. Attrino

nj.com

A second lawsuit has been filed against a captain in the Palisades Park Police Department, claiming the supervisor abused his position and retaliated against a sergeant who filed complaints against him.

The lawsuit states the alleged abuse was so pervasive that administrators in the police department asked the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office to investigate, but that no criminal charges were filed.

Sgt. George Beck claims in court papers Capt. Shawn Lee harassed him after he cooperated with an Internal Affairs Investigation that was launched around the time another officer filed suit against the department over Lee.

That officer, Samuel Kim, claimed in a July 2021 lawsuit that Lee made his life a nightmare by shouting at him in public, bullying him in the locker room and assaulting him with chopsticks. Kim, who now works as a police officer in another town, recently settled his lawsuit with the borough for $120,000.

Beck claims that Lee has harassed not only Kim and himself, but other police officers in the department, according to the suit, filed Tuesday in Superior Court of Bergen County.

On Nov. 4, 2019, Beck gave a recorded interview to Internal Affairs in which he reported “multiple incidents during which Lee physically threatened and/or assaulted other police officers.”

The incidents allegedly included Lee striking a police officer because Lee believed the officer wasn’t showing him respect; challenging an officer to a fistfight in the presence of other people, including the officer’s children; and nearly running his police vehicle into Beck.

“In a fit of rage, Lee abruptly and recklessly reversed his vehicle into a parking spot, nearly running over Beck’s feet in a blatant attempt to place Beck in fear for his safety,” the suit states.

Lee did not immediately respond on Thursday to an email and a phone message requesting comment on the new lawsuit.

Beck’s 34-page lawsuit also alleges that Lee vindictively removed him from his job as public relations and social media coordinator – despite his background as a journalist – and instead placed him on the “project medicine dropbox” and as “backup domestic violence liaison.”

“Lee had Beck assigned to these positions to embarrass (him), as both assignments were considered menial/lowly throughout the PPPD,” the suit states.

In an Oct. 31, 2019 letter to Palisades Park police Captain Anthony Muccio, Beck wrote that Lee had behaved so aggressively that Beck was fearful of him.

“Lee is targeting me and has created a hostile work environment against me to the point I am concerned for my safety,” the letter states.

“Moreover, because of his demonstrated aggression and lack of judgment, I have serious concerns about how he may be treating other members of the department and, potentially, members of the public,” the letter states.

In response, Muccio wrote to borough Mayor Christopher Chung in January 2020, stating that a police internal affairs investigation and interview with now former Officer Kim determined that a criminal offense may have occurred.

The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office was asked to investigate, but they determined that a criminal charge was “not appropriate,” Muccio’s letter to the mayor states.

In an undated letter to Beck, Muccio wrote that Lee had violated departmental rules and regulations and that he would be dealt with. “He will be subject to discipline under our agency’s procedures,” the letter states.

It’s not clear whether Lee was disciplined, and police and borough attorney John Schettino and other officials did not immediately respond Thursday to requests for comment.

NorthJersey.com reported in February 2020 that Lee was suspended without pay for five days and ordered to attend harassment training and anger management classes as a result of an internal affairs investigation.

Beck claims in his suit that Lee has made his work experience so intolerable that he has been forced to work early and late shifts so that he’s not on duty at the same time as Lee.

The sergeant is claiming intentional infliction of emotional distress, and a violation of the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act.

The suit seeks a jury trial, along with compensatory and punitive damages to be determined in court.

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Anthony G. Attrino may be reached at tattrino@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TonyAttrino. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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