Suspended West Virginia trooper accused of excessive force
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia state trooper who was suspended after a teen suspect allegedly was beaten during a traffic stop last month faces an excessive force lawsuit from another incident earlier.
Charles Town attorney Braun Hamstead filed the lawsuit earlier this year against Martinsburg Trooper First Class Derek R. Walker.
A state police spokesman did not immediately comment on the suit Monday.
Walker and Trooper First Class Michael W. Kennedy were suspended without pay last week amid a criminal and internal investigation into a Nov. 19 traffic stop. Gov. Jim Justice learned last week of dashcam video showing the incident involving a 16-year-old male and ordered state police to investigate. The teen was treated at a hospital and released.
According to the lawsuit, Hamstead’s wife, Julie Ann Hamstead, was talking to construction workers about a sidewalk project she disputed in April 2016 when a worker allegedly backed his truck into the driver’s door of her SUV in a parking lot.
Walker and other troopers responded to the incident. The lawsuit says Walker told Julie Hamstead several times to “shut up” before proceeding to drag her. It says Walker then pushed her face into a truck so hard that her glasses broke and slammed her to the ground before placing her in handcuffs.
After putting her in his state police cruiser, Walker turned up the already blaring music he was playing with the windows closed, according to the lawsuit. She was charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing a police officer.
Walker drove her to a hospital for treatment, and hospital staff advised the trooper that she had a possible muscle tear to her left arm, the lawsuit said. Her knees also were bloodied and she had other bruises and contusions, it said.
Her husband said Julie Hamstead has since moved out of state for fear of Walker.
The lawsuit was moved to federal court after initially being filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court. It names more than a dozen other defendants.
A federal judge in August ruled Walker was acting in his official capacity, was entitled to qualified immunity, and removed both him and the state police from the lawsuit. The judge has yet to rule on an amended complaint filed in September that attempts to add Walker and state police back into the lawsuit. Braun Hamstead said the amended complaint addresses what the court indicated were deficiencies in the earlier lawsuit.
In addition to the suspension of Walker and Kennedy in last month’s traffic stop, Berkeley County Sheriff Curtis Keller told news outlets that Deputy Austin Ennis was present during the incident and was placed on administrative leave without pay Friday. Keller didn’t return a telephone message to The Associated Press.
A listed phone number for Walker could not be located.