Lawsuit: Cop falls asleep, delaying Amber Alert

Apr 20, 2011, 3:49 AM | Updated: 9:40 am

Lawyers for the family of a Tacoma girl who was kidnapped and murdered claim the Amber Alert in her case was delayed for six hours because an officer fell asleep before telling anyone about it.

Zina Linnik was 12 years old when she was taken from her home in 2007. The suit, filed in King County Superior Court, claims the only police officer allowed to issue such a warning fell asleep after getting a middle of the night call. The alert to the missing child system didn’t go out until hours later.

According to the court case, Tacoma Police department spokesman Mark Fulghum had taken an over the counter combination pain and sleep medication. Detectives on the Linnik case called Fulghum in the middle of the night and asked him to put out an Amber Alert. At the time, Fulghum was the only person authorized to do that. Instead of putting out the alert, lawyers claim he fell back to sleep.

Attorneys for the City of Tacoma say the suit should be thrown out. They claim the department had no legal obligation to issue an alert.

Linnik’s Uncle Anatoly Kalchik says the suit isn’t about money. It is about making sure the system works properly.

Tacoma has since revised the policy on Amber Alerts, allowing supervisory officers to issue an alert in addition to the department’s spokesperson.

zina-linnikOn July 4, 2007, Linnik was walking in the alley behind her home to find her siblings. Within moments her father heard a scream. He ran into the alley just in time to see a grey van speeding away and Zina gone. The little girl would never be seen alive again.

Several days later a tip to authorities led police to a shallow grave near a hiking path not far from the girl’s home. The tip came from the prime suspect in the girl’s murder,Terapon Adhahn. Adhahn is a 42 year old native of Thailand was also a registered sex offender.

Pierce County prosecutors planned to charge Adhahn with aggravated murder, but since he cooperated with authorities he instead was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

The young victim’s family has started The Zina Linnik Project. They’re raising money to build a playground and renovate McCarver Park. This community-wide effort will improve two parks that bookend and bridge the Hilltop/Central Tacoma neighborhoods where Zina lived and played.

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Lawsuit: Cop falls asleep, delaying Amber Alert