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Hillary seeks to add new claim to suit against Potsdam police

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POTSDAM — Oral “Nick” Hillary intends to add a claim of negligence on a former village police chief’s part to a federal lawsuit in which he claims he was defamed when members of the department allegedly identified him as a possible suspect in the murder of a 12-year-old boy.

According to documents filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, the village did not oppose Mr. Hillary’s amending his Sept. 24 complaint that contends he was illegally detained by police and had his reputation damaged when police made statements implicating him in the death of Garrett J. Phillips, who was strangled Oct. 24, 2011, in the youth’s upstairs apartment at North Country Manor Apartments, 100 Market St.

The newest claim will allege that retired Chief Edward F. Tischler was negligent in his hiring, training, discipline and retention of Lt. Mark R. Murray, Sgt. Michael Ames and Sgt. Charles M. Daniels. According to the motion for leave to file an amended complaint, Mr. Hillary’s attorney, Mani C. Tafari, Queens, says the new claim is closely related to claims contained in the original complaint, specifically that the defendants “acted outrageously and in violation of (Mr. Hillary’s) constitutional rights.”

In an affidavit in response to the motion, an attorney for the village, Amanda C. Sherman, Albany, states that while the village does not oppose the motion, this fact “should in no way be interpreted as an acknowledgement of the validity” of the additional claim. The village will address the validity of the claim when it files a response to Mr. Hillary’s amended complaint.

Magistrate Judge David E. Peebles approved Mr. Hillary’s motion to file an amended complaint Friday.

Mr. Hillary, who is head men’s soccer coach at Clarkson University, claims the allegedly defamatory statements have caused anxiety, anger and loss of sleep, prompting him to seek counseling from medical professionals, among other claims.

Mr. Hillary was not charged with a crime and no arrest has been made in connection with the boy’s death.

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