Widow of NJ mall carjacking victim files lawsuit

Dustin Friedland
CBS New York

Last Updated Mar 18, 2014 11:31 AM EDT

NEWARK, N.J. - The widow of an attorney who was shot dead during a December carjacking at an upscale New Jersey mall has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the mall owners, security contractors, general manager and a first aid squad.

The lawsuit was filed by Jamie Schare Friedland in Newark last week in the death of her husband, Hoboken resident Dustin Friedland, who was shot in the head in front of her on Dec. 15 as they returned to their Range Rover in the parking deck of The Mall at Short Hills.

The suit alleges the mall operators and security contractors failed to keep the mall secure, especially at the height of the holiday shopping season when carjackers are on the prowl.

The suit says that despite repeated instances of violence in the mall's parking lot, the mall "ceased hiring police officers to provide security... citing budgetary concerns."

The suit also accuses the first aid squad of taking an "excessive" amount of time to respond to a 911 call, in part because the ambulance was too big to get into the parking garage and thus, the first responders had to wheel a stretcher up a ramp for Friedland and then wheel him back down.

The lawsuit claimed further that the mall operators should have known a large vehicle such as an ambulance could not get into the parking garage.

CBS New York reports tapes of 911 calls released early last week suggested it may have taken an ambulance as long as 30 minutes to get to Friedland after he was shot.

In January, Millburn Police Chief Gregory Weber said in a statement that the young lawyer received medical treatment within minutes of the shooting, according to the station.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. Michael McAvinue, the General Manager of The Mall at Short Hills who is named as a defendant in the suit, said in a statement obtained by CBS News' Crimesider that "there is no higher priority at the Mall at Short Hills than safety."

He said the mall employs an onsite professional security force and has police officers assigned to the mall throughout the year, including on the evening Friedland was killed.

"Our thoughts are with the Friedland family and we continue to cooperate with law enforcement authorities working within our criminal justice system to bring the individuals responsible for this tragic incident to justice," McAvinue said.

Hanif Thompson, 29, of Irvington; Karif Ford, 31, of Newark; Basim Henry, 32, of Newark; and Kevin Roberts, 33, of Newark, are all charged with murder, felony murder, carjacking, conspiracy, possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose in Dustin Friedland's death. They have all pleaded not guilty.

The Friedlands' Range Rover was found the day after the carjacking at an abandoned, boarded-up house in Newark, about 11 miles from the mall where the shooting took place. Prosecutors have said the couple was targeted because of their expensive vehicle.