Teens locked in police van for 15 hours

Toni Yates reports from Fort Lee
January 14, 2014 2:51:55 PM PST
There was a payout and police changes after five teens were left locked in the back of a police van for 15 hours.

"We panicked when we thought we would have to spend another night and would be stuck for who knows how long," said Kevin Jun, a victim.

Kevin was one of five minors who were locked inside a police van outside the Fort Lee Police Department that was overlooked.

"They forgot them for 15 hours. They let the other kids out. Still had cellphones did not check to see if they belonged to anyone possibly still in the van," said Nancy Lucianna, an attorney.

And there they sat in a tiny divided compartment.

"I was scared, cold steel-like cage, you could not stand up," Jun said, "20 degree weather, no jackets, huddled together, trying to keep warm."

They were trying to get someone's attention.

"One would stand watch and bang on the van if someone was walking by," said Elton Bozanian, an attorney.

Finally 15 hours later, someone heard them and got officers who opened the door.

"They had a shocked expression on their faces," Jun said.

"We are fathers, we felt so bad, can't go back, but we can correct," said Chief Keith Bendul, of the Fort Lee Police Department.

Bendul was not chief at the time, but says his department has made changes in police checks and balances to prevent and oversight like this again. Several officers were disciplined.

"We changed the way the van is divided so that that can never happen again," Chief Bendul said.

The kids are still trying to recover. Their attorney says they have PTSD with flashbacks of the incident.