Trustees, ex-officer sued in man's death

WARREN -- A lawsuit blames poor vehicle maintenance and a Howland Township policy for causing a crash that claimed the life of a Niles man.
Atty. Martin White filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court on behalf of Nancy Lambert, administratrix of the estate of Delbert Lambert, Scott Avenue, Niles. The suit names former part-time police officer Timothy Albu and township trustees as defendants.
Trustees and Albu, who was with the department for about a year, could not be reached. Darlene St. George, township administrator, declined to comment.
According to police reports, Albu was driving south on Ridge Road to a nonemergency call Nov. 10 when his police car crossed the center line and struck a car driven by Chad W. Mitchell, 23, of Niles.
Mitchell and one passenger, Cammie R. Kosak, 19, of Niles, were injured. Lambert, 47, the other passenger, died. Albu was not injured.
Albu, 23, who pleaded guilty in April to misdemeanor charges of vehicular homicide and reckless assault, is currently serving a 120-day sentence in the Trumbull County jail.
The lawsuit alleges that the cruiser Albu was driving was equipped with an anti-lock braking system that failed to engage when Albu applied his brakes. The suit further alleges that the township "knew or should have known" that the vehicles' braking system was not working properly.
The suit also contends that the trustees had a policy "restricting or prohibiting reserve officers from using emergency lights or flashers while operating the police cruiser."
Police Chief Steve Lamantia said he could not release a copy of the department's policy and procedures until he confers with the township's legal counsel.
The lawsuit seeks more than $25,000. A hearing date has not been set.

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