If you think that being falsely arrested can’t happen to you, then you have to watch this video. This video shows my client being arrested for DUI even though she was stone cold sober. This can, and does, happen to innocent people across the country. Here you will see an egregious example of this happening, as it plays out in real time on the officer’s bodycam.
My client, Yolanda Elliott, was a bus driver for the City of Bluefield, West Virginia. Mrs. Elliott is a completely innocent, hardworking good person. She was a bus driver for the actual city that ended up arresting her. She had then, and still has, a CDL license to drive large buses and trucks. Little did she know that when she showed up for work that day, on October 28, 2022, she would be pulled over while driving a city bus, accused of running a red light, and then pulled out of her bus and forced to perform a bunch of circus tricks, while the passenger of her bus watched.
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:
Remember the case where my clients were harassed and arrested on a private home’s front porch, just because cops assumed they were responsible for some marijuana plants growing on a nearby property? Huge update: We just received a big ruling from the Court.
This is a West Virginia case – bodycam of a traffic stop for lack of an inspection sticker and warrantless arrest. This involves the Martinsburg Police Department and Patrolman Daniel Smith. The guy in the video, D.J. Beard, wants to file a lawsuit. You tell me, what do you think? Does he have a case, in your opinion? Mr. Beard was almost immediately arrested for allegedly refusing to get out of his car. Is that what the footage shows?
This is the same police department that pulled over, and arrested, Corey Lambert, as featured in another video (different officer though).
Here are the criminal case filings, including the charging documents, police report narrative, as well as the dismissal orders:
Yesterday, we filed two federal civil rights lawsuits against the City of Mount Hope, West Virginia and their former police officer, Aaron Shrewsbury. This small town of only about 1,000 people set up a notorious speed trap on a nearby four-lane highway. In what was apparently a cost-cutting measure, the local police chief got a disgraced and de-certified police officer, who had been previously fired for dishonesty from another department, re-certified with the state. That officer was Aaron Shrewsbury, who was finally exposed when my client, Brian Beckett, got pulled over for speeding last year while on his way home from work.
Here is where Officer Shrewsbury was decertified in 2015 for dishonesty:
About 6 months ago I made a video about the daughter of the Sheriff of Berkeley County, West Virginia, who was involved in a car wreck under suspicious circumstances. It appeared that she was given special treatment and basically allowed to skate on what would have been a DUI charge/investigation for the rest of us. Well, she’s back in the news, and this time she’s been charged. You can read her father’s statement here. Thanks to Spike Cohen for discussing the situation with me.
In April we filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Marshall County, as well as Deputy Jason Johnson for a vicious K9 attack against our client, Kandi Wood, that took place during her arrest for a probation violation. They filed a motion to dismiss all claims and asserted qualified immunity. The Court just ruled, depriving the deputy of qualified immunity and ordering the lawsuit forward, including the Monell (pattern/practice/policy) claim against the county for their K9 policy.
My client, Wendell Marcum, was arrested in his own front yard by deputies with the Brooke County Sherriff’s Department, for cursing during his interaction with them about a dog complaint. Yesterday we filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in the Wheeling Division of the Northern District of West Virginia, alleging multiple violations of the Fourth Amendment, as well as the First Amendment. Can the police perform a warrantless arrest of a man standing in his own front yard, for cursing and asking them to leave his property?
The law is clearly established that an individual has a First Amendment right to express profanity during an interaction with law enforcement. SeeCohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1972); see also Lewis v. City of New Orleans, 415 U.S. 130 (1974) (The U.S. Supreme Court reversed a conviction under a Louisiana statute that had provided that “It shall be unlawful and a breach of the peace for any person wantonly to curse or revile or to use obscene or opprobrious language toward or with reference to any member of the city police while in the actual performance of his duty.”).
The Supreme Court held in Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573 (1980) that, “absent exigent circumstances, an arrest in the home or curtilage area around the home must be accomplished by means of an arrest warrant….” In Rogers v. Pendleton, 249 F.3d 279 (4th Cir. 2001), the Fourth Circuit held that police officers must have probable cause plus either a warrant, or exigent circumstances, to perform a search or seizure within the curtilage of a person’s home, and that if asked to leave, officers are required to leave and seek a warrant.
Supreme Court jurisprudence extends heightened Fourth Amendment protections beyond just the interior of the home itself, but also to the “curtilage,” which is the “land immediately surrounding and associated with the home,” because the curtilage is “considered part of the home itself for Fourth Amendment purposes.” Oliver v. United States, 466 U.S. 170, 180 (1984). The Fourth Circuit has made clear that a warrantless search of curtilage is presumed to be unreasonable. Covey v. Assessor of Ohio Cnty., 777 F.3d 186 (4th Cir. 2015).
WV law creates the possibility for a criminal charge (disorderly conduct) due to a subject’s expression of profanity where: (1) The person is in a “public place” and where he (2) Disturbs the peace of others by “violent, profane, indecent or boisterous conduct or language; and (3) is requested to desist by a law enforcement officer and doesn’t. The West Virginia Supreme Court held in 2015 that the word “others” in W. Va. Code Section 61-6-1b (“disorderly conduct”) does not include law enforcement officers, but rather than some other third party must be present and actually offended by the subject’s conduct, in order to commit the criminal offense of “disorderly conduct.” Maston v. Wagner, 781 S.E.2d 936 (W. Va. 2015).
There’s a huge update to the case where my client, Darius Lester, was shot by a SWAT team, while trying to sleep in his home. As explained previously, he had no criminal record and had committed no crime. The West Virginia State Police was executing a search warrant for that residence that was entirely unrelated to Darius. They claimed that Darius confronted them and came at them with a hammer, for which they charged him with a felony. That charge has now been to court….
This video was submitted by Jordan, who was pulled over in Charleston, West Virginia while delivering food via an online app. He was pulled over for a broken tag-light. Officers then asked him to exit the vehicle. He was frisked and then made to watch, while officers searched his vehicle because they claimed to smell marijuana. Can cops order you out of your vehicle at a traffic stop for any reason? Can they frisk you and search your pockets for any reason once they order you out of the vehicle? Can they search your vehicle just because they claim to smell marijuana?
“[A] police officer may as a matter of course order the driver of a lawfully stopped car to exit his vehicle.” Maryland v. Wilson, 519 U.S. 408, 410, 117 S.Ct. 882, 137 L.Ed.2d 41 (1997) (citing Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106, 98 S.Ct. 330, 54 L.Ed.2d 331 (1977) (per curiam)). That rule, the justification for which is officer safety, extends to passengers, as well. Wilson, 519 U.S. at 414–15, 117 S.Ct. 882. (United States v. Vaughan, 700 F.3d 705 (4th Cir. 2012)).
The Fourth Amendment prohibits police officers from prolonging a traffic stop beyond the time necessary to investigate (and write a ticket for) a traffic violation unless the officers have reasonable suspicion that the stopped vehicle’s occupants are engaging in other crimes. Rodriguez v. United States, 575 U.S. 348, 354-56 (2015).
The odor of marijuana alone, as of the current state of the law, provides probable cause for officers to search a vehicle for evidence of marijuana possession – despite state laws legalizing the possession of marijuana under some circumstances. As the Fourth Circuit noted in United States v. Mitchell (4th Cir. 2018), “[t]his is especially the case so long as marijuana possession is prohibited by federal law, without exception. 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1).”