Update: Charleston Gazette-Mail article:
WV Record article:
Yesterday we filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Putnam County Commission, along with three of their employee deputies: Lovejoy, Donahoe and Pauley. The suit is related to multiple searches and seizures of Michael Walker, a Scott Depot, WV resident, who was simply exercising his right to open-carry firearms in the State of West Virginia. He has seizures, so he cannot drive. Therefore he walks everywhere he goes, including hunting. But when he walks with a firearm openly displayed, which is perfectly legal in West Virginia, he has been harassed by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department. In December of 2016, he was arrested by Deputy Lovejoy for open carrying a pistol. He spent an entire weekend in jail without his seizure medications, and ended up hospitalized. He was found not guilty following a trial of that illegal arrest.
Two months later, Mr. Walker knew to turn the video recorder of his cell phone on so that his next encounter would be preserved for the world to see. This video, a portion of which is posted here:
The video shows a law enforcement officer admitting that he targets all firearms owners, including law abiding citizens, for illegal searches and seizures. In other words, he admits to a pattern, practice and policy of depriving the rights of gun owners in Putnam County, West Virginia. At one point, the deputy asks Walker why he needs an AR-15….
The officer, Deputy Donahoe, calls Mr. Walker a “fucking cocksucker” a few times, accuses him of being a “sovereign citizen,” and blatantly defies established federal constitutional law.
Federal law is very clear that, in open carry states, such as West Virginia, a police officer cannot perform an investigatory detention, or seizure, or “Terry Stop,” of an individual lawfully open-carrying a firearm. Not unless they have individualized information that the specific individual is prohibited from possessing firearms, or that the individual has committed some criminal act. They cannot walk up to you and ask for your ID, then run a background check on you, just to be sure you’re legal to carry a gun, which is what happened here. In fact, Deputy Donahoe admitted to committing many more civil rights violations involving innocent gun owners. He said he does it every day, and arrests people all the time on that basis. That might perk up the ears of some public defenders in Putnam County……
If you want to know more, read the Complaint linked below. It has all the details, and sets out the laws which were violated.
Complete text of the Complaint: