Two suing Montgomery, police officers over rough arrests

CHARLESTON –- Two individuals are suing three Montgomery police officers -– one with multiple lawsuits against him -– saying they were violently accosted and subjected to racial slurs during run-ins with the officers.

Thomas Hardy and Deneen Obey, mother of Chyna Obey, filed separate lawsuits May 21 in Kanawha Circuit Court against the city of Montgomery, and officers Matthew Leavitt, Shawn Hutchinson and D.W. Adams.

Hutchinson was fired as a police officer with the city after a previous incident. It is unclear of the status of Leavitt and Adams.

Leavitt is the subject of multiple lawsuits by citizens who alleged police brutality. Often the plaintiffs are black and allege they were targeted because of their race.

Hardy, a Fayette County resident, claims that on Aug. 2, 2008, Leavitt and Hutchinson confronted him in Montgomery.

The plaintiff claims that Leavitt, without provocation, viciously grabbed his left hand and bent the wrist, causing a sprain. Hardy claims that Leavitt then continued to verbally and emotionally assault him.

After this alleged battery, Hardy claims the officers searched his vehicle without probable cause or his consent and confiscated 21 Tylox painkiller pills for which he claims he had a prescription.

Deneen Obey claims that on Aug. 24, 2008, Leavitt and Adams approached her minor daughter, allegedly three months pregnant at the time, and, without provocation, stepped on her hand causing her to fall down.

The plaintiffs say Leavitt picked Chyna up and slammed her against the wall and subjected her to verbal and emotional battery, claiming that he did not like her because she was hanging out with the "Terrells."

The complaint says Leavitt used racial slurs several times during the conversation.

The plaintiffs say Adams also slammed Chyna against a wall, as well as handcuff her and taken her to the police station.

The complaint says Chyna was later taken to Montgomery General Hospital's emergency room where the defendants against subjected her to verbal and physical assault.
All three plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

Travis E. Ellison is representing the plaintiffs. The cases are before Kanawha circuit Judges Charles King and James Stucky.

Kanawha Circuit Court case numbers: 09-C-964 and 09-C-965

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