Thomas K. Delahanty, the former District policeman wounded in the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan last March, filed a $12 million civil suit yesterday in D.C. Superior Court against John W. Hinckley Jr., who has admitted firing the shots that also injured Reagan, his press secretary and a Secret Service agent.

In the lawsuit Delahanty, who retired on full disability two months ago from the police department, sued Hinckley for assault and battery, negligence and acting with "wanton and reckless disregard for human life" in the shooting. During the incident a bullet struck Delahanty in the shoulder and neck, ricocheting off his spinal cord.

In his court papers, Delahanty asked for $4 million dollars in compensatory damages for permanent injuries, expenses and loss of earning capacity, and $8 million in punitive damages. His wife Jean claimed an additional $1 million in damages as a result of the "loss of consortium" and damage to their marriage.

Hinckley said in court after his arrest on criminal charges in connection with the attempted assassination that he had no property or bank accounts and was found to be indigent by a U.S. magistrate. Hinckley's family retained lawyers from the prestigious local firm of Williams & Connolly to defend him.

Delahanty's lawyer, Robert Cadeaux, said yesterday that Hinckley "may be covered by an insurance policy either under his own name or within the family" that could include coverage for negligence. Cadeaux said he also believes there may be a trust fund in Hinckley's name that could be tapped if Delahanty were to win his suit.

The extent of Hinckley's assets will be determined in the next year or so during discovery proceedings in Delahanty's case, Cadeaux said.