The Charleston Gazette reported today that several lawsuits have been filed against police officers in Smithers and Montomery, West Virginia, and that several more are to be filed in the coming months.
One of the allegations is that a man and his father were physically and mentally abused by officers after they were pulled over leaving the father’s bar. Another of the allegations is that there was an old-fashioned shake-down of a cab driver.
Does anyone see a pattern here? These small-town West Virginia police departments have no oversight. It was only a few days ago that I posted about the out-of-control officer in East Bank, West Virginia. There needs to be a deterrent to this type of behavior. Then penalty for police misconduct of any sort should be extremely, extremely severe.
For now anyways, the penalty is that the State of West Virginia gets sued. Unlike many states, when the State or other political subdivisions in West Virginia get sued for police misconduct, the liability mostly falls on the state’s million-dollar insurance policy. So, in effect, a town or county – or even the state – doesn’t really have any exposure to liability (at least as long as the state can procure this insurance on their behalf). So being government employees, they have no profit incentive to improve the state of things, and they have no accountability either. Have you ever heard of an “Internal Affairs” investigation in the State of West Virginia? Of course not. The only “internal affairs” division is the attorneys who sue the State on behalf of people who’s rights, and bodies, were violated by bad cops.
– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney.