Sleeping Cop Delayed Amber Alert on Murdered Washington Girl, Suit Claims

TACOMA, Wash. -- A Washington police officer allegedly fell asleep when he was supposed to be issuing an Amber Alert on a 12-year-old girl who was abducted and later killed, The News Tribune reported Wednesday, citing a lawsuit from the girl's family.

Zina Linnik's family alleges that the alert could have gone out six hours earlier if Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum had stayed awake.

The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against city, county and state authorities claiming they were too slow to act on the abduction and did not do enough to monitor the convicted sex offender who killed Zina in Tacoma, 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Seattle.

The suit alleges Fulghum was awakened at home at 4:00 a.m. local time on July 5, 2007, when a sergeant called him and asked him to send out the Amber Alert. He had earlier taken Advil PM, a pain reliever and sleep aid, and fell back asleep. As a result, the alert was not issued until 10:00 a.m., 12 hours after Zina was reported missing, the suit says.

Fulghum declined to comment when contacted by the newspaper.

The city has argued that the Amber Alert system is voluntary, so it cannot be held liable for delays in something it is not required to do. It also pointed out that Zina was likely killed within minutes of being abducted.

Terapon Adhahn, the convicted sex offender who confessed to kidnapping and killing Zina, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.