N.J. hockey lawsuit: Coach pointed gun at player during practice

N.J. hockey lawsuit: Coach pointed gun at player during practice

Boys Ice Hockey

N.J. hockey lawsuit: Coach pointed gun at player during practice


A former high school hockey coach in New Jersey has filed a lawsuit claiming that his then coach pointed a gun at him during a practice.

As reported by NJ.com, former Bayonne (N.J.) High School hockey player Liam Johnson has filed a lawsuit which names former head coach Dave McKenna and assistants Scott Lewkowitz and Nicholas Brancatella. The suit also cites a New Jersey state trooper whose service weapon was used by McKenna to allegedly threaten Johnson.

“It is still unfathomable that a high school student was held at gunpoint by a teacher with a New Jersey State Trooper’s service weapon,” Johnson’s attorney, Joel Silberman, told NJ.com. “This incident is further complicated by the fact that the other teachers (Brancatella and Lewkowitz) who witnessed or otherwise knew about what happened did absolutely nothing.”

Johnson’s lawsuit specifically cites Lewkowitz, Brancatella and Richard Korpi, the state trooper involved, for attempting to cover up the incident to all other school administrators and state police officials.

While the two assistant coaches remain employed by the Bayonne school district, McKenna has since resigned as both a coach and teacher and pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a weapon in connection with the Johnson incident.

According to the lawsuit and NJ.com, here is how the disturbing account unfolded in a local ice rink:

On the day of the incident, Korpi went to the rink in uniform and changed in the coaches’ office, leaving his service weapon in plain view and unsecured, the lawsuit says.

When Johnson approached the coaches’ office, McKenna unholstered the gun and pointed it at Johnson for a minute, Johnson said in the police report. The lawsuit says the gun was loaded, but police reports obtained by The Jersey Journal make no mention of whether the gun was loaded or not.

Lewkowitz could see what was happening and Brancatella was nearby, according to police reports.

Neither Korpi nor the New Jersey State Police would issue any comment about the pending litigation, which seeks unspecified punitive damages and other affiliated fees.

There is no timetable for the lawsuit’s next steps, though not all defendants had been notified and served as of Thursday.


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