The City of Hinton has now fired its police chief, Derek Snavely. Snavely is the primary defendant in the McPherson v. Snavely, et al. excessive force lawsuit currently pending in the federal district court for the Southern District of West Virginia.
From the Register-Herald newspaper this morning:
HINTON – Mayor Joe Blankenship announced Tuesday that Hinton Police Chief Derek Snavely has been terminated.
An emotional Blankenship made the announcement during a city council meeting in Hinton, not long after reports surfaced that Snavely had been placed on leave following a domestic dispute.
During his tearful speech, Blankenship said that Snavely was promoted to police chief in 2009 without his recommendation, due to the fact that he was dating his daughter, Bethany. Blankenship also stated that he has always recused himself from meetings concerning raises for Snavely.
“City code states that the office of police chief is at the will and pleasure of the mayor in every municipality, therefore I feel I cannot stand aside any longer concerning this situation,” Blankenship stated. “As Bethany’s father and best friend, I feel that I’m aware of everything.”
At the time the City of Hinton hired Mr. Snavely, Mr. Snavely was in the news for having been effectively fired by the West Virginia State Police for misconduct. This information was also known at the time the City of Hinton promoted him to police chief. See Trooper Accused of Rape Resigns, Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20081211/ARTICLE/312119998. He was also in the news for allegedly falsifying police records to cover up his misconduct. See Prosecutor Not Told Ex-Trooper Falsified Log, Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20081211/ARTICLE/312119998.
The State Police even took the unprecedented step of making a public statement about Snavely. It was reported in the Herald-Dispatch newspaper, that the newly-appointed West Virginia State Police spokesperson said, of Snavely, “We can’t have things like this,” waving a newspaper with an article about Snavely’s alleged misconduct, stating that, “it reflects poorly on me and [the superintendent] . . . it kills me.” He noted that it was important for the state police to do “everything we an to acknowledge and address these incidents, and then we need to move forward.” See W. Va. State Police Col. Focusing on Standards, The Herald-Dispatch, http://www.herald-dispatch.com/news/recent_news/w-va-state-police-col-focusing-on-standards/article_2d9b2963-a067-59b1-93d1-ac4e8004ccfe.html.
This was all known (1) before he was hired by the City of Hinton; and (2) before he was promoted to police chief. I’m sure the fact that he was dating (and now married to) the mayor’s daughter had nothing to do with it. This is not the first time a police officer resigned due to misconduct and then was hired by some small town in West Virginia. That’s been a recurring problem across the state.