Crime Line tipster sues city

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Suffolk Crime Line tipster whose identity was inadvertently revealed to the person he turned in has sued the city and Police Chief Thomas Bennett.

The man says he has been shot at, stalked and threatened as a result of the mistake.

The lawsuit, filed Monday, demands a trial by jury and requests a total of $11 million as compensation for physical pain, mental anguish and lost earnings.

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According to the lawsuit, the tipster called the Crime Line on May 19, 2010 to give police information on the location of a wanted violent felon, Bubble Jones.

The tipster, whom the News-Herald is not naming to prevent the man’s further harassment, indicated that he wished to remain anonymous. However, when Jones was arrested based on the caller’s information, the Crime Line form was inadvertently given to him in a stack of papers about his case.

According to the lawsuit, Jones and members of his family confronted the tipster on May 25, telling him things such as “I’m going to make your life a living hell,” “I’m going to tell everyone that you’re a snitch” and “Watch your back.”

The lawsuit also says that the tipster’s home and vehicles have been repeatedly vandalized, he has received death threats and that Jones has had to be restrained from attacking the tipster in public.

It also contends that an “innocent third party” died in a shooting where the tipster was the intended target. The lawsuit does not specify the case, but it has previously been named as the July 18 shooting that left Alissa Johnson, 25, dead and another man wounded.

The caller has moved out of Suffolk, the lawsuit says. It also accuses Bennett and the city of not offering protection for the tipster and refusing to return calls about the case.

In a November interview, city spokeswoman Debbie George said the clerk who took the original call printed the form and put a copy into the warrant jacket, when it should have gone only to the Crime Line coordinator. The arresting officer was not familiar with the form and gave it to Jones along with the arrest warrants.

Bennett has made changes within the department to prevent such an incident from happening again, George said. He also has invited experts from other regional departments to inspect the city’s Crime Line program.

George also said last year that police do not believe Johnson’s murder is related to the Crime Line case. However, no suspect has been arrested for her killing.

The city does not comment on pending litigation, George said Wednesday.