The mother of a 2012 murder victim has filed a federal civil rights and wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Biddeford, the Maine Department of Public Safety and several public employees and police officers, alleging police ignored threats by the shooter before he ultimately killed two teenagers.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Portland on behalf of Susan Johnson, seeks unspecified damages, and stems from the December 2012 double murder of her son, Derrick Thompson, 19, and Alivia Welch, 18, who were killed by their landlord, James Pak, 79. The shooting grew out of a dispute involving parking and snow removal at an apartment on Sokokis Road in Biddeford. Police initially responded, but left after roughly 40 minutes when they concluded that the parking dispute was a civil matter.

The lawsuit alleges that Pak shot Johnson and Welch just three minutes later. Prosecutors have said previously that after the confrontation, Pak called 911 and admitted to the killings.

At issue is whether the police did enough to prevent the shooting during their first visit to the home, and whether officers were adequately trained, and if the state of their training could lead to injury or death.

“James Pak admitted to threatening to shoot Thompson, Johnson and/orWelch,” according to the lawsuit, filed by Portland attorney Kristine Hanly. “Officer Dexter and/or Wolterbeek responded by telling Pak that he can’t make those types of threats. James Pak’s emotional state continued to heighten while speaking with Officer Dexter and/or Wolterbeek. James Pak told the Officer that he had a gun and if the Officer didn’t do something about the parking ‘there is going to be a bloody mess’ and that ‘they would see it in the news.’ ”

According to the lawsuit, neither officer searched Pak’s apartment for weapons, or arrested him for making threats.


Biddeford City Manager James Bennett said he hadn’t seen the lawsuit.

“We have not been served and have no knowledge of the claims that are being made,” Bennett said in an email. “Hence, we will reserve any further comment until we have been officially notified and can evaluate the claims.”

Pak pleaded guilty in February 2016, after initially trying to plead not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, but subsequent psychological examinations determined Pak understood his actions were wrong.

Johnson, who is the mother of Thompson and who was also shot in the confrontation but survived, named two Biddeford police officers, Edward Dexter and Jacob Wolterbeek, along with unnamed police dispatchers and Biddeford Police Chief Robert Beaupre as defendants.

She alleges that the officers ignored threats by Pak.

Biddeford police referred requests for comment to the city.


Hanly, Johnson’s attorney, did not return a request for comment Wednesday.

The suit also names the city of Biddeford, along with Maine Commissioner of Public Safety John E. Morris, whose department is responsible for developing and maintaining training standards at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.

The charge against Beaupre alleges that in his capacity as chief, he failed to adequately supervise and train the officers.

Pak’s case was also the subject of a lawsuit by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, which sued the government to learn the contents of the 911 calls made by Thompson before the fatal encounter.

After losing an initial ruling, the state’s highest court in 2013 affirmed the newspaper’s right to obtain the emergency call transcripts, which were previously withheld by police citing the ongoing criminal investigation of the murders.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

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