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City faces fifth lawsuit by man who claims harassment

Plaintiff asks for more than $500,000 in damages

Posted: Friday, December 03, 2004

Acting as his own attorney again, a Juneau man is seeking more than $500,000 in his fifth lawsuit against the city.

He also is suing Juneau police and an officer he claims has been harassing him.

Jake Olivit Sr. represented his family in its 2002 suit against the city, police and Juneau schools, according to court records. Documents show the family settled that suit for $25,000. The original complaint sought $5,000 in compensatory damages and $1.4 million in punitive damages.

Juneau City Attorney John Hartle said Thursday the city's insurance company settled with Olivit last year "against my advice." He said he has read the claim in the most recent suit, filed Wednesday.

"We are looking into it, but we're skeptical, based on his history with the city," Hartle said.

Other suits Olivit has filed have gone to federal court and have been dismissed, Hartle said. All have involved the police department.

Olivit, in the most recent lawsuit, demands an apology from police and an investigation into his claims against Officer Paul Comolli. It also seeks $5,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages.

Court records show Olivit paid $150 to file the action on his own behalf.

"I have filed numerous complaints regarding Officer Paul Comolli and the behavior of the Juneau Police Department," Olivit wrote. "I do not feel these complaints have been taken seriously. It is for these reasons I respectfully request relief through the courts."

Juneau police Capt. Tom Porter said he could not comment on personnel matters. He said only that Comolli is assigned as the school resource officer.

Comolli said Thursday that he has never arrested Olivit and recalled dealing with him only once, in 2003, when he issued him a warning instead of a citation.

Olivit wrote that he was arrested by Juneau police for "stealing the tires off of my own vehicle" 20 years ago. "After the incident was dropped, I started receiving traffic violations to the point of license suspension." A recent "questionable" traffic ticket, he believes, is an extension of "continued harassment at the hands of the Juneau Police Department and Officer Comolli."

Olivit, who works at a downtown auto parts store, wrote that he has seen Comolli cruising in his neighborhood and said Comolli tried to have him fired from his job on two occasions. He also claimed Comolli harassed him at his oldest son's high school graduation in June and during this year's Alaska Native Celebration.

The 2002 suit grew out of an April 26 incident at Floyd Dryden Middle School involving Olivit's two sons, the older one taking money for the younger one, a student there. He claimed school officials assaulted his son. Olivit said that after he complained to police about it, he was arrested by police and not read his constitutional rights until he appeared in court three days later.

Olivit claimed school officials conspired to provide false police reports and that police Officer Joel Hinz disregarded his family's civil rights.

Olivit later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault in an agreement that imposed one year on probation without any jail time or fine.

Porter said Hinz no longer works for the Juneau Police Department.

Hartle, when asked if Hinz was disciplined for the matter involving Olivit, said, "I don't comment about discipline, but no."

• Tony Carroll can be contacted at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.



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