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Clarkson soccer coach may sue Potsdam over treatment in boy’s murder investigation

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POTSDAM — Clarkson University Head Soccer Coach Oral “Nick” Hillary has filed a notice of claim against the village for his treatment in the murder investigation of 12-year-old Garrett J. Phillips.

This notice must be filed within 90 days of the incident, and gives the village 30 days to respond. It is the first step in filing a lawsuit against the village.

Garrett was found unconscious Oct. 24 at North Country Manor Apartments, 100 Market St., after neighbors heard screams and cries for help. He was pronounced dead that evening at Canton-Potsdam Hospital.

In the claim dated Jan. 20, Mr. Hillary alleges that on or about Oct. 26 he was detained without cause by village police. The claim also says his home, automobile and person were searched and some property was seized despite demands that they be returned.

His notice lays out five specific claims he alleges against the village: claim for false arrest, illegal detention, illegal search and seizure, emotional distress and defamation.

ManI Tafari, Mr. Hillary’s attorney, said a lawsuit is expected to be filed in state Supreme Court, Canton, by the end of April.

“Mr. Hillary has a solid legal team,” Mr. Tafari said.

The claim alleges Mr. Hillary was named a main suspect in the murder by the Village Police Department. Mr. Tafari, of New York, said the department showed impropriety on multiple occasions.

Mr. Tafari declined to say what property has been seized by police, but said it has not been returned.

In March, Former Police Chief Edward F. Tischler said the investigation has continued to focus on one person, and he hoped for closure soon.

“This is something that has to be handled by our attorneys,” said Mayor Steven Yurgartis.

Mr, Yurgartis said the case was sent to the village’s insurance carrier and declined further comment.

Mr. Hillary declined to comment Tuesday afternoon,referring comment to Mr. Tafari.

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