The City of Westover now faces 2 federal lawsuits regarding 2 separate beatings by officers of the Westover Police Department. In the newest lawsuit, filed by Shaffer Madia Law, the plaintiff was beaten after using his cell phone to record officers passing by a local bus stop in a Westover Police Cruiser on the morning of August 25, 2019. According to the complaint and information gathered by WBOY-TV, the officers turned their vehicle around and confronted the man at the Mountain Line bus stop on Dunkard Avenue.
After the officers asked why our client was recording through a rolled-down window, they called him “stupid,” exited the police cruiser, and violently attacked him with punches, kicks, and pepper spray. The entire incident appeared on surveillance footage from a nearby business, which depicts officers throwing the first punch and “executing a football-spear tackle maneuver to unlawfully, and with great force, seize [the plaintiff’s] person.” Later, officers allegedly took the plaintiff into custody without reading him his Miranda Rights and refused to let him clean excessive amounts of pepper spray off his face and eyes.
Due to injuries sustained during his arrest – including a facial fracture – the plaintiff received treatment at Ruby Memorial Hospital. Afterward, he spent 39 nights at the North Central Regional Jail on false charges of disorderly conduct, obstructing, and battery on a police officer. Shaffer Madia Law was appointed to represent the Plaintiff in the criminal proceedings. At Shaffer Madia Law’s request, a Monongalia County Magistrate dismissed the charges in October 2020.
As a result of the arrest and unlawful incarceration, the plaintiff lost his job and his apartment. With Shaffer Madia Law’s help, our client sued the City of Westover for these losses, as well as physical pain and suffering, mental anguish and humiliation, damage to his personal property, invasion of his privacy and decency, and loss of his 1st, 4th, and 14th Amendment rights.
An Alarming Pattern Within the Westover Police Department
One of the officers in question had a long history of misconduct, and fellow officers of the Westover Police Department formally requested his removal, calling him “a threat to life.” The same officer was also involved in another beating in Westover, which resulted in the first civil rights lawsuit against the Westover Police Department.
The incidents occurred in close proximity to one another and catapulted the City of Westover into infamy. Both incidents were captured on video, although our client’s cell phone is still missing, as is bodycam footage of the event.
The officer named in both lawsuits is on paid administrative leave, and the excessive force lawsuits are underway. We are proud to be fighting for our client’s rights in the 2nd suit.
According to WBOY-TV, Westover officials said they had not yet received our suit as of January 21, 2021.
Have You Been a Victim of Excessive Force in West Virginia?
Unfortunately, incidents of excessive force and police misconduct do occur. If you believe your rights were violated during an arrest or interaction with police, we encourage you to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Remember, you have rights even if you’ve been accused of a crime.
At Shaffer Madia Law, we are dedicated to helping people who have faced serious injustices right the wrongs they have suffered. We have more than 60 years of combined experience and can help you understand your rights and legal options during a free consultation.