Man mistakenly shot by trooper files notice that he plans to sue

Gerald Sykes was shot in his Upper Deerfield Township home when state troopers were dispatched to the wrong address to investigate a 911 call.

photo Man mistakenly shot by trooper files notice that he plans to sue images

    UPPER DEERFIELD TWP. -- The attorney for the man shot after State Police were mistakenly dispatched to his home in late July has filed notice he may sue.

    Rich Kaser, who is representing Gerald Sykes, has filed a tort claim notice against Cumberland County, officials there have confirmed.

    Kaser has also filed tort claim notices against Vineland and the state, according to a report.

    The attorney told the Press of Atlantic City that Sykes is continuing to recover from the shooting. Two bullets couldn't be taken out immediately after the incident, his attorney said.

    On the night of July 30, Sykes, then 76, and his wife were asleep when they were awakened by their dog barking.

    Sykes says he saw what he thought were prowlers on his back deck and retrieved a shotgun. As he went near the doors in the home's living room, he was struck by three shots fired from outside.

    Instead of "prowlers," the men outside his home were two New Jersey State Troopers who were mistakenly dispatched to Sykes home.

    After receiving a 911 hang-up cell phone call placed around 11:30 p.m., dispatchers mistakenly sent troopers to Sykes address, which turned out not to be where the call originated from, the New Jersey Attorney General's Office has said.

    Panic, disbelief in 911 call mixup

    The well-kept home where Sykes lives is well off the road and next to a cell phone tower. There remain questions about whether the tower played any role in leading dispatchers to believe the emergency call came from Sykes' home.

    "The county believes that our 911 center acted appropriately at all times with respect to the calls that were made on the evening that Mr. Sykes was injured. The county 911 operators did not dispatch anyone to Mr. Sykes residence, and that occurred as a result of actions by others," said Cumberland County Solicitor Ted Baker on Monday.

    "More importantly, the county has immunity under both state and federal law for actions it takes handling 911 calls and responses and therefore is not liable for the events that took place that night."

    Sykes was critically injured after being shot and was airlifted to a Camden hospital. He remained there until Aug. 8.

    Sykes was unaware that he had been shot by a trooper. On a tape of the 911 call he made seeking help, he implored emergency responders to "hurry."

    Sykes wife, Margo, 80, was not physically injured in the shooting.

    Kaser earlier labeled the incident a "tragic mistake."

    Because it was a police-involved shooting, the Attorney General's office took over the investigation. A final report on the case is pending.

    An attorney representing the unidentified trooper who fired the shots at Skyes, John Eastlack Jr., said he was confident that the investigation would show his client did nothing wrong.

    "I believe that after this incident is thoroughly investigated by the Attorney General's Office, (it will be determined) the troopers there acted consistent with the New Jersey Attorney General's guidelines for the use of force," Eastlack said last summer.

    A spokesman for the state Attorney General's Office did not immediately return an email asking about the status of the probe on Monday.

    Bill Gallo Jr. may be reached at bgallo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow Bill Gallo Jr. on Twitter @bgallojr. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Article Man mistakenly shot by trooper files notice that he plans to sue compiled by www.nj.com