Alex Johnson disappeared last December.
His body was found a month later, stuffed in a barrel in the Kentucky River.
The Johnson family said their son died as a direct result of police not responding.
Monday afternoon they filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
The lawsuit accuses the city of not doing enough to find Johnson right away despite 911 calls from people claiming to see a beating on Hanover Avenue.
The complaint said if police responded more quickly, they could have been able to track the vehicle used to kidnap Johnson.
The 911 dispatcher, call taker, supervisors, police chief and mayor are all targets of the lawsuit.
Dispatch records show two police units went to the area but didn’t find anything during searches lasting five minutes.
The family’s attorney said that’s because police were dispatched wrong.
“If they’d have sent somebody out under their policies on an ‘in-progress call’ there is a likelihood that Alex would still be with us today and he’s not,” said Mark Wohlander, attorney for the Johnson family.
Johnson’s family talked with ABC 36 just after the lawsuit was filed.
“Our main goal is for the police department here in Lexington to do what they’re supposed to do and follow their policies and all that so that no one will have to go through what our son and we’ve gone through,” said Lee Johnson, Alex’s father.
The Johnson’s attorney gave the city a draft of the complaint back in September and an opportunity to settle out of court.
There was no settlement so the complaint was taken to court.
The city said it cannot comment.