Last week we filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of John W. Orem and his wife. The Complaint alleges three civil rights violations: an illegal search, an illegal arrest, and an illegal violation of the right to privacy.
In the lawsuit, John Orem and his wife, Sher Orem, claim Trooper Matthew D. Gillmore, on Aug. 2, 2016, conducted an unreasonable search and seizure at their home in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
The civil suit requests the court to award damages against the defendants in an amount to be determined at a trial by jury for past, present and future medical expenses; past, present and future pain and suffering; loss of enjoyment of life; psychological and emotional distress; reasonable attorney fees and costs, as well as other compensatory and punitive damages.
John Orem told The Journal Tuesday that he did not want this to go this way.
“I made a complaint with (West Virginia State Police) and tried to get them to handle the issue within their department,” Orem said in an emailed statement. “Then after a year and never sending anyone out to look into the issue or speak to anyone, they said they see nothing wrong.
“So although all officers are human and make mistakes, I believe that we need to trust our law enforcement to self-police and correct errors. If they can’t do that, they force us to sue. Since the (West Virginia State Police) have immunity to civil suits, this is the only way to have them correct issues and help them to provide a better service to our community.”
This is the photo which was uploaded to social media, while Mr. Orem was still sitting handcuffed inside the Martinsburg state police detachment. We allege this was taken and uploaded by employees of the West Virginia State Police in order to destroy Mr. Orem’s reputation and political campaign.
The strategy worked well. The arrest quickly made national headlines.
A few examples:
Mr. Orem was kept sitting on the bench for several hours prior to his arraignment – even though a magistrate was available to arraign him. The Complaint alleges the delay was due to the fact that the State Police contacted the media, in order to be sure they were waiting with cameras to catch Mr. Orem being perp-walked into the courthouse, with the arresting officer proudly displaying his catch. Here is a photo of the next morning’s newspaper:
After both the prosecutor and the defense attorneys agreed that the arresting officer had performed an illegal search, and asked the court to dismiss the charge against Mr. Orem, this arresting officer wrote a letter to the court objecting to the dismissal. The court ignored the letter and dismissed the charge.