The elected sheriff of Berkeley County, West Virginia has just been indicted by a grand jury on charges related to a video I showed you about 8 months ago where he showed up to a car wreck involving his daughter. Do you remember this? On January 20, it was reported in the media that Berkeley County prosecutor Catie Delligatti was requesting the appointment of a special prosecutor, in response to the public’s response to the video footage showing that county’s elected sheriff, Nathan Harmon, responding to the scene of his 22 year old daughter’s extremely suspicious car wreck.
The wreck happened on January 6. The sheriff’s daughter, Carrie Harmon, claimed that she was driving to her friend’s house to have dinner and watch movies, but that a deer ran out in front of her; the road were wet, and she swerved to avoid the deer and then wrecked.
But what really appears to have happened is that her father helped her coverup the fact that what really happened is that she was driving while intoxicated. Most of us, after having crashed while under the influence, would have been actually investigated by the responding police officers. This means that they would have tested our breath for alcohol, given us field sobriety tests and so on. But that’s not what happened here. Why? Because the investigating officer who responded was a deputy for the same county where the driver’s father was the sheriff.
Here’s my original video on this with the full footage:
Police officer Heather Weyker, of the St. Paul, Minnesota, Police Department, was found by the federal courts to have fabricated false charges against several dozen Somali refugees, including Hamdi Mohamud, who spent 2 years in prison for it. Hamdi is now represented by the Institute for Justice, who represents her in an almost decade-long lawsuit against Weyker, which so far has been unsuccessful. Believe it or not, Weyker is still working a six figure job at the St. Paul Police Department, despite having been adjudicated as a liar. Her attorney, Patrick Jaicomo, of the Institute for Justice, joined me to explain this insane story.
Even though the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals found in 2016 that Officer Weyker had fabricated false charges against numerous individuals, the St. Paul Police Department used her in a recruiting video in 2017!
Sylvia Gonzalez became the first Hispanic councilwoman elected in her hometown of Castle Hills, Texas. She was elected on a platform of reform, based on her neighbors’ complaints about the current incompetent town leadership, including the city manager. Her first act as councilwoman was to present a citizens’ petition to remove the incompetent city manager. The entrenched swamp creatures had other plans, however. The city manager and other city officials conspired to have Sylvia arrested and charged for a bogus criminal violation.
The Institute for Justice took her case and filed a federal civil rights lawsuit for First Amendment Retaliation. You can learn much more information about the case on the IJ’s website and view the legal filings here.
“Castle Hills officials seem to believe that they are above the law because they are the law,” said Anya Bidwell, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, which represents Sylvia. “But criticism isn’t criminal, it is a constitutional right. And it is patently unconstitutional for an official to use the police to stifle speech and retaliate against political opponents.”
Last year I did a video on that case, which had been lost at the Fifth Circuit. Now the Institute for Justice is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case.
Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Anya Bidwell about the case. Like Patrick Jaicomo, who I got to interview about the James King case recently, Anya is one of the top civil rights attorneys in the country. She spent her childhood in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. At 16, she left her family behind and came to America on a university scholarship. Her upbringing motivated her to study law and become an advocate for a strong, independent judiciary.
If you want to help, please consider supporting the Institute for Justice, either by donating or by following and sharing their content.
And there’s still more. The most outrageous of the allegations I disclosed in my first video pertained to a state trooper putting a hidden camera in the women’s locker room of the WV State Police Academy, as well as the ensuing destruction of the evidence and coverup. One of the things argued back and forth on the radio between the former head of the state police and the Governor’s office is the claim that there were no victims wanting to press charges. Well that’s not the case, apparently. According to media reports, multiple women who regularly used the female locker room at the West Virginia State Police Academy have filed a notice of intent to sue over allegations a hidden camera was used there. It looks like multiple lawsuits are looming.
Yes this is a huge scandal. Sadly, however, this wouldn’t be the first time for the West Virginia State Police. Have you ever heard of Fred Zain? In 1977, Zain was hired as a chemist at the West Virginia State Police crime laboratory, with the rank of trooper. He was eventually promoted to director of the serology department.
It was later discovered that Zain had gained his job in the serology department by using false credentials. Nobody checked his background. He soon became popular with prosecutors in West Virginia for being able to solve extremely difficult cases. His reputation was such that prosecutors throughout the country wanted to use him as an expert witness.
In 1987, an innocent man named Glen Woodall was convicted of a series of crimes and was sentenced to 335 years in prison. The next year, in 1988, DNA testing was used for the first time in a state prosecution, which proved conclusively that Woodall was innocent. The conviction was reversed. Woodall was released and sued the state for false imprisonment, winning a 1 million dollar settlement.
A criminal investigation into Zain began. A special judge and a panel of lawyers and scientists were appointed to investigate the West Virginia State Police’s serology department. Ultimately, a judge issued a report finding that Zain had engaged in outright misconduct and fraud over a long period of time. According to the report, Zain had misstated evidence, falsified lab results and reported scientifically implausible results that may have resulted in as many as 134 people being wrongfully convicted.
The judge’s report concluded that Zain’s misconduct was so egregious that any testimony offered by Zain should be presumed to be invalid, unreliable and inadmissible. The West Virginia Supreme Court accepted this report, calling Zain’s actions “egregious violations of the right of a defendant to a fair trial” and a “corruption of our legal system.”
After leaving West Virginia, Zain then went to Bexar County, Texas, where his fraud and misconduct may have resulted in as many as 180 wrongful convictions there. Reviews of the cases he was involved with resulted in charges being dismissed and convictions reversed for numerous cases in both West Virginia and Texas. West Virginia alone paid a combined total of $6.5 million to settle wrongful convictions lawsuits.
So, to recap the current scandal: an anonymous whistleblower letter was sent to numerous politicians making serious allegations with sufficient specificity as to give the instant credibility. A local investigative reporter began looking into it and reporting on it. Someone provided me with a copy of that letter. I released the letter and described the substance of the allegations in my first video about this.
Then, all hell broke loose. My first video alleged that the head of the state police had been terminated. That wasn’t true. At least not yet. Then, the state trooper suspected of being the whistleblower gets arrested, the day before he’s scheduled to testify at a grievance hearing where top brass was subpoenaed to be questioned under oath by the whistleblower’s attorney about allegations of corruption and misconduct.
The alleged whistleblower’s attorney then goes on the TV news and calls the arrest retaliation for his client being the alleged whistleblower who wrote the letter that I released. The whistleblower must have friends in high places, because state officials from the Department of Homeland Security then ran with those allegations and searched the state police headquarters, seizing the devices of the top brass at the state police, including the superintendent.
But there’s still more. The Governor has asked the new Interim State Police Superintendent Jack Chambers to look into a case where a man died along Interstate 81 in Berkeley County, West Virginia on February 12 of this year. The theme here is the complete lack of accountability from within. Coverups instead of actual investigation of police misconduct.
Here’s what is alleged to have happened there. A caller reported a man walking along the side of the road appeared to be intoxicated. When officers arrived, the release from State Police claims there was some sort of struggle that resulted in the man becoming unresponsive and officers were unable to resuscitate him.
Brian Abraham, the governor’s chief of staff, said tasers were used multiple times on the man. “It ended up culminating in that individual being subjected to a taser on multiple occasions and ultimately had cardiac arrest or something, but he was unable to be resuscitated on scene.” The body cam footage of this event exists, but has not yet been released. Here’s what the Governor said about it: “I’ve seen the video. The video is very, very concerning.”
There’s so much going on. Let’s go back to the casino incident. One of the allegations to come out in the investigation of the state police leadership is that a senior trooper stole money from a guy in a casino. Then, the Governor’s chief of staff demanded that the head of the state police terminate the guy. Instead, he let him retire first.
The investigative reporter, Kennie Bass, issued a FOIA request and obtained the video footage and report detailing what happened. According to his reporting, at about 11:20 a.m. May 29, 2021, a male patron said he had lost an envelope containing $500. This triggered a review of security cameras. This showed a man in a hat, dark shirt and blue jeans had picked up the envelope.
A further investigation of the video sequence revealed the man and his female companion, identified as his wife, had already left the property. The man was identified as a West Virginia State Police captain. Investigating the matter, a West Virginia Police sergeant contacted the captain and was able to quickly recover the envelope, which was stuffed with $731 in cash. The sergeant contacted the casino about the recovery and had the money back at the gaming facility by 2:22 p.m. A West Virginia State Police receipt recorded the handover of the cash and the money was placed in a safe. On the next day, May 30, 2021, the customer who had reported the missing money was back in the casino by 11 a.m. to claim his property.
The Governor gave a press conference about it and slammed the state police leadership for covering the incident up. “Basically, any way you cut it that money was stolen,” Gov. Jim Justice said at a briefing earlier this week. “And then as far as us doing a quick investigation and getting right on to what we should get onto, we didn’t do that.”
The Governor’s chief of staff strongly suggested to the head of the state police that the two troopers involved in the theft and coverup be thrown under the bus immediately. “My advice was by the time the sun goes down today, those two individuals would not be state troopers anymore,” Brian Abraham, the governor’s chief of staff, said. “I then left the decision-making to him (Jan Cahill – the superintendent) as the agency head.”
Colonel Cahill, who resigned Monday morning as State Police superintendent, ignored Abraham’s advice and allowed the captain to retire with 29 years of service. There was no investigation. The sergeant who recovered the money was cleared by an internal agency investigation under Cahill’s watch. A new probe, however, is focusing on the sergeant’s failure to report the incident up the chain of command.
Then there’s, of all things, the scandal of the hidden camera being placed in the women’s locker room of the West Virginia State Police Academy. The trooper who put the camera in the bathroom supposedly said he was doing so in order to catch some state police employees having an affair. But apparently he recorded a bunch of footage, presumably for his own use. That guy is now dead. So he’s not being brought to justice. But then, three troopers find this footage on a thumb drive, showing the footage from the locker room. What do they do with it? They pull it out of the computer, throw it on the floor and start stomping on it – destroying the evidence.
The now former head of the state police said essentially that it wasn’t a big deal because there were no victims who wanted anything done about it. Well apparently that’s not true. It’s just been reported that multiple victims who were recorded have now hired lawyers and put the state on notice that they intend to sue. So multiple female employees of the West Virginia State Police were recorded by a state trooper, and then the evidence was destroyed by other state troopers. Leadership was aware of all of this, and yet did nothing but engage in a coverup.
Imagine if the Fred Zain mess had just been covered up, instead of being exposed? How many innocent people would still be rotting away in prison, but for the exposure of his misconduct? That’s what’s currently at stake. It’s not just about what we know about already; it’s about what else do we NOT know about? It’s about the integrity of past convictions; the integrity of pending criminal cases; pending civil lawsuits.
I have conversations with people every day where I say essentially, yes I believe you. I do believe you. But I have to be able to prove it. Do you have any video footage? Any audio footage? Unfortunately, I can’t just take your word and run with it. Just by default, the powers-that-be and people in general will take a police officer’s word over yours. We, as a society, have gifted that credibility to them, just by virtue of placing a badge on them. If they’re not worthy; if they’re not credible, they need to go. As quickly as possible. And an example must be made for the others. That is what has not been happening in the West Virginia State Police.
The major point here that the former head of the state police completely missed, is that accountability is everything. You don’t just throw one or two people under a bus when it’s politically expedient to do so. You consistently maintain a high standard of integrity and professionalism. If you don’t do that, the entire system collapses. Then what happens? The feds have to come in like it’s 1866 and start putting people from Washington DC in charge of local law enforcement. That’s where we’re headed I believe, if this isn’t resolved properly.
But also remember: you can’t trust the government in general. We don’t want them cleaning up the mess just for optics, and then continuing on after a certain quota of top brass have been thrown into the volcano. We need complete accountability and a plan for moving forward. Perhaps like the Zain ordeal, there should be a committee of people, including a judge, to sort through this. I’ll continue watching this as it develops and will no doubt provide future updates. So please subscribe if you want to follow along. If you have information, please provide it to me using the submission link.
Video footage has just been released showing misconduct by a notorious former sheriff in Clayton County, Georgia. That footage resulted in his conviction for federal civil rights violations, for which he is about to face sentencing. In other words, here’s yet another rare, but great, example of law enforcement being held accountable for civil rights violations in the best possible way – criminal prosecution.
Victor Hill, the former sheriff of Clayton County, Georgia, was charged with seven counts of willfully depriving detainees at the Clayton County Jail of their constitutional right to be free from unreasonable force by law enforcement officers. Specifically, the grand jury who indicted him alleged that Hill caused the seven victims to be strapped into restraint chairs at the jail without any legitimate nonpunitive governmental purpose and for a period exceeding that justified by any legitimate nonpunitive governmental purpose. The grand jury further alleged that these offenses caused physical pain and resulted in bodily injury to the victims.
The trial is already over. On October 26, 2022, a jury convicted Hill on six of the seven counts. As to each of those six guilty counts, the jury further found that the offense caused physical pain and resulted in bodily injury to 6 different victims.
The reason you’re seeing this now is because some of that footage was just released. The released footage shows the restraint of Robert Arnold, who was booked into the jail on February 25, 2020. He was accused of assaulting two women inside a Forest Park grocery store earlier that month.
“What was you doing in Clayton County that day?” Sheriff Hill asked Arnold.
“It’s a democracy, sir. It’s the United States,” Arnold replied.
“No, it’s not. Not in my county,” responded Sheriff Hill.
When Arnold challenged Sheriff Hill on his right “to a fair and speedy trial,” Hill told sheriff’s office employees to bring him a restraint chair.
“Roll that chair ’round here,” ordered Sheriff Hill. “Roll that chair ’round here.”
According to a 2018 policy approved by Hill, restraint chairs “may be used by security staff to provide safe containment of an inmate exhibiting violent or uncontrollable behavior and to prevent self-injury, injury to others or property damage when other control techniques are not effective.”
Prosecutors also introduced surveillance videos from inside the jail that showed Sheriff Hill’s interactions with Glenn Howell on April 27, 2020. Howell, a landscaper, had a dispute with a Clayton County Sheriff’s Office deputy about payment for work that Howell did on the deputy’s property. Sheriff Hill called Howell to try to intervene and the conversation became heated. When Howell tried to contact Hill again, Hill obtained a warrant for Howell’s arrest on a charge of harassing communications. Howell turned himself in a few days later.
In the surveillance video, Howell is pictured sitting on a bench for several minutes. He appears to follow commands as an intake officer searches him and processes his belongings. At one point, prosecutors pointed out, jail staff left Howell alone in the intake area—something attorneys argued they would not have done if Howell was a threat. Footage shows Sheriff Hill arriving about an hour later and speaking to Howell in the hallway. Less than a minute into the conversation, Howell is placed into a waiting restraint chair.
The sheriff’s office restraint chair policy explains that officers should remove someone from the device “when they have determined that there is no longer a threat to self or others, or the inmate must be transported to another facility.” Multiple witnesses, however, testified that when Sheriff Hill ordered someone into a restraint chair, it was understood that person was not to be released for four hours, the maximum allowed under the policy.
The biggest police scandal in the country right now is going down in West Virginia – and almost nobody even knows about it. It hasn’t made national news yet. One reporter in West Virginia exposed it and things have escalated. This is another one of those cases where this Youtube channel has inadvertently helped to expose government misconduct. This goes to show what an absolute necessity free speech is to our freedom.
A couple weeks ago I released an anonymous whistleblower letter from a state trooper, making specific allegations against the top leadership. I had no idea this would happen, but apparently that kicked off what is essentially a civil war inside the West Virginia State Police that seems to have been brewing. Since my first video on this with the whistleblower’s allegations, that whistleblower has been arrested. His lawyer is alleging a coverup conspiracy going all the way to the top of the state police.
Now, more breaking news, as of last night it was revealed that the Governor has ordered the seizure of the cell phones and electronic data of almost all the top leadership at the state police. Crazy, crazy stuff. This is big. People should know about this, because the implications are enormous.
On February 17, I posted a video with breaking news about the scandal at the West Virginia State Police, publishing for the first time the salacious details being alleged. I’ll link that video in the description, as well as the link to the letter itself.
Here’s my original video:
The initial version of that video title included the allegation that the head of the state police had been terminated. Within hours of the posting of that video, I was contacted by his attorney and told that he had in fact not been terminated, demanding a correction, which I did. It apparently started to snowball from there. I started getting all sorts of contacts from current and retired law enforcement officers with messages of support, as well as additional information.
Then I started getting additional anonymous letters. I didn’t publish any of those and I don’t intend to at this point. Instead, not really wanting to be within the middle of a law enforcement civil war, I provided those letters to the appropriate authorities. Maybe the time will come that that will happen. One of those letters, however, made reverse accusations against the trooper later disclosed to be the alleged whistleblower, Joey Comer. That was the first time I heard his name; never talked to the guy. He’s not the one who gave me the letter.
But I did start to hear through my contacts that the whistleblower, or whistleblowers – because it seemed to me that it was more than one individual, from the amount of information provided – were worried that retaliation was coming.
Then, sure enough, on February 24, 2023, the leadership at the WVSP issued a press release announcing that the alleged whistleblower, Joseph Comer, a current member of the West Virginia State Police, was arrested and charged with domestic battery and felony strangulation.
Okay, wow. So they arrested the whistleblower. But there’s more….
Then, on the same day, February 24, 2023 the attorney for the alleged whistleblower gives an interview to the media alleging that the arrest was in retaliation because he was the suspected whistleblower. Before we get to the allegations against Comer, let’s look at the timing. He was arrested the day before he was scheduled to testify at a hearing in front of an administrative law judge about “corruption that was going on” within the state police. Comer’s lawyer said that the “top brass” of the state police had been subpoenaed to testify at that hearing, where they had intended to expose their misconduct through evidence in their possession.
So this hearing is set to take place Friday morning. Thursday afternoon at 4:12 p.m., an attorney for the state police filed a motion seeking to prevent the agency’s top staff from having to testify and be subjected to questioning. Then at 11 p.m. Thursday night, the whistleblower received a call from other state troopers telling him they were coming to his home to pick up his gun and his badge because there had been a domestic violence protection order filed against him.
Comer’s lawyer said that the head of the state police had traveled to the vicinity where his client worked as a trooper and told several people that he knew who the whistleblower was, and that he had a hearing on Friday morning, and that he was going to “take care of him.”
The underlying allegations that they arrested the alleged whistleblower on were domestic violence in nature. According to a criminal complaint filed in Ritchie County Magistrate Court, on Dec. 5, in the gravel parking lot of the Sleep Inn in Ellenboro, Comer grabbed a woman around her neck during a scheduled child custody exchange. The woman reported that she had bruises on both sides of her neck. The alleged incident resulted in the strangulation charge, a felony. The second criminal complaint alleges that on Dec. 12, 2022, in the gravel parking lot of the Sleep Inn in Ellenboro, a woman said she was struck in the head with a sippy cup that Comer threw at her during a scheduled child custody exchange. The woman told troopers that the incident left her with a black eye, according to the court documents. The records do not indicate if the woman who reported both alleged incidents is the same person, but sources say the alleged victim, who is also a trooper, shares a child with Comer. One of the anonymous letters I received said something to this effect.
One of the important constitutional issues that the Institute for Justice is currently litigating is the ability to sue the government when they file criminal charges against someone in retaliation for their protected speech. There’s some bad law out there saying that, if probable cause exists, no matter the bad motive, you can’t sue them for First Amendment retaliation. Even if it was.
Here, there’s a similar concern. Certainly the state police didn’t create the allegations whole-cloth. But let’s look at the dates. One of the incidents is alleged to have occurred on December 5; the other on December 12. Yet they didn’t charge him until February 24 – the day before the hearing at which he was set to expose corruption among the state police leadership. Moreover, the alleged victim of those incidents is herself a state trooper. I would agree with Comer’s lawyer, that just doesn’t even pass the laugh test.
I was told that more was coming out. Well, last night it did. Last night a third media report came out and it’s a bombshell. I had been hearing that this was occurring, but now it’s verified. Last week, the main headquarters of the West Virginia State Police was searched by the Department of Homeland Security. That’s the state-level DHS. This was done at the order of the Governor. Here’s the actual order from the Governor, ordering:
Cahill, the head of the state police, was directed by the Governor to grant any and all necessary access to systems or data that was requested.
The media outlet obtained one of those duty logs and posted in their story on their website. They’ve since deleted the screenshot, but I saved it. It’s a duty log entry from Sgt. B.L. Keefer addressing the search and attempted apprehension of Comer when the warrant was issued for his arrest on Feb. 23.
In the duty log entry, Keefer wrote that he was called at home to contact/locate Comer and “relay him to WVSP Parkersburg, under the premise of him being served with a DVP.” Keefer wrote that he spent several hours searching for Comer and learned that “senior staff was attempting to ‘ping’ his cell phone and utilize LPRs in searching for Cpl. Comer’s whereabouts.” The log entry indicated “WVSP senior staffers” had discussed calling out additional manpower.
The sergeant wrote that he had been advised Comer had a hearing the next morning at State Police headquarters, where he could be “easily served at that time, with his legal counsel present.” “Additionally, this sergeant, still under the assumption that his search was still centered around a DVP service, believed that the orders originating at WVSP HQ were definitely overkill based on the very small bit of information he had been previously provided,” Keefer wrote. Despite all of this, Keefer said he continued searching for Comer in very desolate areas of Jackson County, near Comer’s home. Keefer said he was not able to locate Comer but learned the next morning that there were actually felony and misdemeanor warrants issued for his arrest, along with the DVP.
“This sergeant is now strongly questioning the decision by the WVSP senior staff in not informing the sole member they sent to locate Corporal Comer, and not informing this sergeant of the felony and misdemeanor warrants, that were most assuredly in effect at the time of the search,” the entry stated. “This sergeant has since learned that the WVSP senior staff has taken the position that they were afraid that Corporal Comer was a ‘threat’ that needed immediate attention, but failed to inform the very member that they ordered to ‘bring him in.'”
Keefer went on to question why, if Comer was considered a threat, he was not provided with the information as part of officer safety protocols. “If Corporal Comer had truly been a ‘threat,’ and any information had leaked to him from the ‘victim’ or any other person who had information that this sergeant most certainly was not provided, then that placed this officer at an undue risk, and that is inexcusable,” Keefer wrote. Keefer ended the entry by writing, “This sergeant is making this note on the duty log as an abridged history, and record, of this event, as the current WVSP administration efficacy and trustworthiness is called into question.”
So, it sounds like the trooper they sent to arrest the alleged whistleblower, is now himself blowing the whistle, implying that the arrest was political and corrupt and in retaliation against Comer. If this is the case, it appears that the evidence has now been seized. Are they going to find communications between the state police leadership and others about locating and arresting the alleged whistleblower either in retaliation for what he disclosed, or to prevent him from testifying at the hearing the following day? I’d love to read through those text messages and emails. How much do you want to bet there are communications about yours truly? Maybe I’ll get to find out eventually.
One thing people have already asked me: did they need warrants to seize evidence from the senior state police staff? In general, I can answer that. I once had a case where we sued a sheriff for placing a GPS tracker on a deputy’s cruiser without a warrant, and then using that data to indict him on numerous felonies. The result in that case was that the federal court said that since the agency owned the cruiser, and the investigation was technically employment related, that no warrant was needed. I suspect the present situation would fall within those same parameters and therefore no warrant is necessary.
The state Department of Homeland Security is currently investigating the matter and is expected to conclude no later than April. If you have information you want to provide, you can find my contact information at thecivilrightslawyer.com, where I will also post links to the stories I discussed in this video.
This issue is important because the major problem with policing in America, in my opinion, is the lack of accountability. Here in West Virginia, when politicians, or judges, or lawyers get investigated and are found to have engaged in misconduct, that becomes public record. The public can see the reports; the conclusions. Law enforcement? Not so much. They have been able to successfully seal their employment records under the guise of employee privacy. In reality, they are our employees, and we should know about any substantiated misconduct.
In the past couple of days, WCHS has been reporting about an anonymous whistleblower letter from someone within the West Virginia State Police, revealing numerous specific allegations of misconduct, mostly by senior staff at the agency. I just obtained a copy of that letter and it’s unbelievable.
Here’s video of parole officers caught on video stealing cash from inside a house they are otherwise lawfully searching as law enforcement officers. Is that a civil rights violation? Can they be sued? Could they get qualified immunity? Just in general, if police officers steal something from you, does that violate your federal constitutional rights?
On November 16, 2022 in Greece, New York, Shannon Carpenter and her boyfriend John Grandberry were getting ready for the day when there was a knock at the door shortly after 8 a.m. At the door were six state parole officers who announced they were there to search the house. Grandberry was on parole after serving prison time for a “criminal possession of a weapon” conviction. Four officers entered the house. Carpenter switched on a phone-activated web camera, aimed at the bed and closet. The camera recorded video of parole officers searching the house, eventually finding $6,000 in cash that was kept in a pair of pink Timberland boots. Here’s what happened.
Following the discovery of the items, around 9:30 a.m., one of the parole officers, identified by Carpenter as Doris Hernandez, appears to type a message on her phone and hand the phone to her colleague, an unidentified male officer. He glances at it, hands it back to her, and they whisper inaudibly. The male officer then peeps out the door before turning back to Hernandez. “We can share the money…,” he said. “You’re right,” Hernandez replied, pointing a finger gun at the other officer. “As long as there’s enough money to go around,” he said.
The incident has since become the basis for pending litigation brought by Carpenter and, according to the Greece Police Department, an investigation by New York State Police. Hernandez has since been suspended with pay, according to the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, which oversees the Parole Division. Thomas Mailey, a spokesperson for the agency, did not give a reason for Hernandez’s leave and did not respond to a question sent via email of whether the unidentified male officer had been suspended. Meanwhile, the search put Grandberry back behind bars. He is being held on violating parole for possessing a weapon, a scale, and drugs, according to the Monroe County Jail Census.
While this search and seizure must meet the reasonableness requirements of the Fourth Amendment, the Supreme Court has applied a balancing test to weigh the potential intrusion on a parolee’s privacy against the governmental interest at stake. See Samson v. California, 547 U.S. 843, 848, 126 S.Ct. 2193, 165 L.Ed.2d 250 (2006); U.S. v. Knights, 534 U.S. 112, 118, 122 S.Ct. 587, 151 L.Ed.2d 497 (2001).
The Court has explained that parolees “do not enjoy ‘the absolute liberty to which every citizen is entitled, but only … conditional liberty properly dependent on observance of special [probation] restrictions.’ ” Griffin v. Wisconsin, 483 U.S. 868, 874, 107 S.Ct. 3164, 97 L.Ed.2d 709 (1987) (citing Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471, 480, 92 S.Ct. 2593, 33 L.Ed.2d 484 (1972)).
Therefore, a parolee’s diminished expectation of privacy is justified by the state’s substantial interest in the supervision of its parolees and the prevention of recidivism. Samson, 547 U.S. at 850, 855, 126 S.Ct. 2193.
In 2019, in the case of Jessop v. Fresno, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit Court decided that two police officers in Fresno, California, who allegedly stole more than $225,000 in assets while executing a search warrant, could not be sued over the incident. Though “the City Officers ought to have recognized that the alleged theft was morally wrong,” the unanimous 9th Circuit panel said, the officers “did not have clear notice that it violated the Fourth Amendment.”
We recognize that the allegation of any theft by police officers—most certainly the theft of over $225,000—is deeply disturbing. Whether that conduct violates the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures, however, would not “be ‘clear to a reasonable officer.’”
The SCOTUS later declined to hear the case. As of now no Second Circuit opinions have cited Jessop.
The 4th Circuit in the 2004 case of Mom’s Inc. v. Willman was the only prior federal circuit to address the issue of whether it was a 4th Amendment violation for law enforcement to steal items otherwise lawfully confiscated during a search.
Here’s information regarding the lawsuit we just filed against West Virginia parole officers:
Well, we did it. Youtube did it. We took down a judge who was violating the Constitution. On March 4, 2020, Family Court Judge Louise Goldston was filmed by my client, Matt Gibson, searching his house as part of a divorce proceeding. A few days later we uploaded the footage to Youtube. Outrage ensued. Disciplinary charges ensued. A federal civil rights lawsuit ensued. An impeachment in the state legislature ensued. Well, she has now resigned, in face of the imminent impeachment.
And as of today, I just discovered this breaking news: two additional West Virginia family court judges have also been charged for their part in conspiring to help Judge Goldston avoid disciplinary prosecution. Here are formal statement of charges for Family Court Judge Stotler and Family Court Judge Rock, just obtained today from the West Virginia Supreme Court:
The cover up is always worse than the crime, isn’t it? I mean, if you’re an elected sheriff, wouldn’t it be better to allow your irresponsible 22 year old daughter who drove drunk and crashed her car to get a DUI, than to use your position to protect her from the consequences of her actions, and thereby possibly destroy your career, as well as public confidence in their local government?
This video comes to us from Berkeley County, West Virginia, where the daughter of the local sheriff was allegedly returning home from a night of drinking at a bar, but failed to make it home, instead crashing her car. A Berkeley County deputy – a subordinate of Sheriff Nathan Harmon (her father) – arrived at the scene. His body cam captured what he saw….