A Selden family plans to file a $20 million lawsuit against the City of New York, the city police department and an off-duty NYPD cop they say terrorized them and pointed a gun at a family member last month, their attorney said Thursday.
Devon Tyme, his wife, Michelle Ritchie and their son Dillon Tyme, 23, filed the notice of claim Monday with the city comptroller's office, indicating they plan to file the lawsuit at a later date.
The family says in court papers they were confronted at their house on July 23 by NYPD Officer Douglas Debonet following a road rage incident between Dillon Tyme and Debonet several blocks from the Tymes' home.
Debonet, 32, of Selden, was charged in July with fourth-degree criminal mischief and second-degree menacing, both misdemeanors. Debonet pleaded not guilty on July 24 in First District Court in Central Islip and was released without bail. He is due back in court on Sept. 9.
The NYPD suspended Debonet without pay following his arrest.
In an email Thursday, an NYPD spokesman said the department "will review the lawsuit if and when we are served."
The New York City Law Department did not return a phone call and emails seeking comment.
The Tymes' lawyer, David Woycik of Garden City, said Devon Tyme, an accountant, and his family have suffered anxiety and depression since the incident. Ritchie is managing director of a health care company and their son is a Stony Brook University student.
“They’ve gone through hell and back," Woycik told Newsday. "You’ve got the father, he had a weapon pointed in his face. He didn’t know if it was loaded or not.”
Debonet did not return a call seeking comment.
The notice of claim states that Dillon Tyme "suffered a road rage confrontation" with Debonet at about 11:30 a.m. July 23 at Old Town Road and County Road 83 in Selden. The incident "resulted in a rear-end collision," the document states, though it doesn't specify which vehicle was rear-ended.
At some point, Debonet allegedly punched and broke the passenger side rearview mirror of Dillon Tyme's car, Woycik said in a news release.
About five hours later, Debonet used his vehicle to block the Tyme family's driveway and demanded to speak to Dillon Tyme, the notice of claim says. Devon Tyme arrived at the house and was "pushed and threatened" by Debonet, who brandished a firearm, the document says.
The family made a video of the incident, Woycik said in court papers.
Woycik told Newsday the incident had "racial overtones." The Tyme family is Black and Debonet is white.
“They’re very nice, law-abiding people, no criminal background,” Woycik said of his clients. Referring to Debonet, he said, "He should never have a gun. He’s a dangerous human being.”
The Tyme family obtained a court order of protection against Debonet, court records show.