It was only a week or so ago that I posted about some lawsuits that were filed against the Montgomery, West Virginia, police department. Now more lawsuits have been filed, and the FBI has opened an investigation.
According to an article in the Charleston Gazette this morning, there are three incidents being litigated and investigated, and they all surround Montgomery police officer Matthew Leavitt. Leavitt was suspended after being accused of beating Twan Reynolds on September 26.
According to the article:
Twan Reynolds and his wife, Lauren, accuse Patrolman Leavitt and Patrolman Shawn Hutchinson and of repeatedly hitting Twan Reynolds over the head with a blackjack, kicking him in the back and spraying his eyes with Mace at close range.
They filed a lawsuit in Kanawha County Circuit Court last week.
They also say Leavitt repeatedly used a racial epithet against Twan Reynolds, who is black, and Lauren Reynolds accused Leavitt of licking her on the neck during an interrogation and saying, “Little whore, you like it like that.”
Leavitt and other officers are accused of other acts of violence, and of saying things like this:
“He threatened to ‘blow my fat black ass away,'” White said. “He said, ‘Bitch, I own you. I own the streets of Montgomery.'”
“When he handcuffs me, he throws me against the car and told me to ‘Quit screaming like a little bitch.'”
“I said they were going to jail for neglecting me,” Carr said. “Then Leavitt said, ‘You can’t prove shit,’ and hit me in the head with the nightstick.”
And then there were things that he said to the newspaper:
“She is a constant nuisance,” Leavitt said, adding that the girl had been in juvenile detention in the past.
“Even if I was the biggest racist on earth, which I am not, that would seal my coffin as a police officer,” Leavitt said. “I would not be stupid enough to utter that word while wearing a badge. … That is just stupidity. But again, that is the first allegation I face if a suspect is black.
“I can’t help the fact that I was born a white man. I don’t care that I was born a white man. It just so happens that the majority of the criminals in Montgomery, due to demographics, are African-American. When I worked in Smithers, most were white.”
For what it’s worth, juvenile proceedings are supposed to be sealed and confidential, and it’s completely inappropriate for a police officer to make statements to a newspaper regarding someone’s juvenile record or proceedings. But I guess that pales in comparison to this guy’s arrogance, both in his statements to the victims while he was beating them up, and his bigoted statements to the newspaper.
– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney