Disabled Robbinsville family gets $200K after cop attack
By: Isaac Avilucea (firstname.lastname@example.org)
POSTED: Tuesday, May 29, 2018 - 6:57 p.m.
UPDATED: A DAY AGO
Robbinsville Township Police Department logo.
ROBBINSVILE >> The township has paid out crazy money to settle three lawsuits brought after a cop went "off his rocker" and assaulted a wheelchair-bound mom and her 4-year-old son during a psychotic meltdown.
Government transparency guru John Paff first reported the settlement on his blog.
The township approved the $200,000 payout to the disabled couple and their child at a May 10 meeting, bringing the total figure to settle three lawsuits arising over ex-Sgt. Mark Lee's mental break to $417,500.
That included the couple's settlement, a separate $100,000 settlement for the disabled couple's caretaker Bashemah Rountree, who claimed she was injured during the scuffle and another $117,500 with Lee.
The ex-cop got paid after he claimed the department didn't accommodate his disability, a neurological disorder that caused calcium deposits on his brain that his legal camp pointed to as the cause of the bizarre attacks.
Township officials said at the time of Lee's arrest that he had showed no signs of erratic behavior before the meltdown.
The township didn't admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement over the psychotic break that resulted in Lee busting into the disabled couple's Project Freedom home on Sept. 17, 2012 and attacking the 45-year-old mom and her son while he was on-duty as a horrified and helpless relative looked on.
"What happened here was a real tragedy. Because of certain legal niceties, this outcome was the best for all parties," the couple's lawyers, Clifford Bidlingmaier and Robin Lord, said in a joint statement.
Witnesses said Lee followed the woman and child into a bathroom as they tried to escape into the master bedroom with the caretaker.
Lee broke into the bedroom and knocked the mother off her wheelchair, strangled her and stripped off his clothes.
By the time police got there, Lee was sitting on a couch. He admitted to cops, "I did a bad thing," sources told The Trentonian at the time.
"He just went off his rocker," Bill Sabo, the woman's father, told the newspaper in a prior interview. "He ripped off all his clothes, threw them on the floor, knocked my daughter out of her wheelchair and began choking her.
Lee briefly escaped police custody after kicking out a side window of a police cruiser as he was hauled off.
Arrested after a foot chase and struggle, he was charged with official misconduct, aggravated assault, child endangerment, aggravated assault on a police officer, burglary, harassment and criminal mischief.
The 18-year veteran police sergeant was suspended and resigned from the force. He was allowed into pretrial intervention in 2013 to resolve the charges.