CHARLESTON – A Logan woman says deputies with the Logan County sheriff's department set her home and car ablaze in retaliation for her complaining about an allegedly rough arrest.
Brenda Williamson filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Charleston on June 5 against the Logan County Commission, Deputy Jeffery Robinette, "Deputy Carter" and a third unnamed deputy.
Williamson said that on Dec. 21, 2007, she was at her home along with her boyfriend, Randy Vinson, and a friend, Aida Sloan, who was on home confinement and staying with Williamson.
According to the complaint, Sloan told Williamson that Vinson had choked her and that she had called police.
The three deputy defendants showed up at the home and separated Vinson and Sloan, the complaint says. Williamson says she was in the kitchen while the deputies spoke to the two.
The complaint says that Sloan was "cordial" and explained that Williamson was doing her a favor by letter her serve her home confinement in Williamson's home.
Robinette went outside for a few minutes, the complaint says. When he returned to the kitchen, he allegedly asked Williamson why she had a surveillance camera at the front of her house.
"For some reason, this seemed to annoy Robinette," the complaint says. "And from that point forward, Robinette was verbally abusive to (Williamson) and Sloan."
Williamson alleges the deputy called Sloan derogatory names and threatened to take both Williamson and Sloan to jail.
"Unappreciative of this treatment, (Williamson) politely asked Deputy Robinette for his badge number and/or name," the complaint says.
Williamson says this angered the deputy and he grabbed her right arm and twisted it behind her back. She claims the deputy handcuffed her right wrist and then "roughly" grabbed her left arm and twisted it behind her back and handcuffed her left wrist.
"At this point, Robinette slammed (Williamson's) head off of her kitchen table, and then bent her over and with his knee in her back he slammed her chest first into a deep freezer," the complaint says.
Williamson claims she winced and cried out in pain, but Robinette just told her to "quit whining."
The complaint says Deputy Carter witnessed this, as did Sloan. The complaint alleges that Sloan pleaded with Robinette not to hurt Williamson because she had recently undergone heart surgery and had back problems. But Robinette allegedly kept Williamson pinned to the freezer.
Robinette and Carter then allegedly led Williamson outside into the cold in her bare feet with no coat. Williamson claims that Robinette led her up some stairs forcefully and caused her to fall. She says Robinette mocked her when she fell by stating, "we have a faker here."
"At no time did Robinette or Carter inform or advise (Williamson) that she was under arrest," the complaint says, "and she did nothing to obstruct their investigation of Ms. Sloan's complaint, other than to simply ask for Robinette's name and/or badge number because she was offended by his lack of professionalism and specifically his abusive language."
According to the complaint, the unnamed deputy asked Williamson if she'd ever been in trouble before –- she said she hadn't -– and if she needed and ambulance -– she said she did.
While waiting for the ambulance, Williamson says she had to get Vinson to get her nitroglycerin spray and spray it in her mouth because she was having chest pains. All the while, Williamson claims, Robinette "was cursing and telling her that he would show her what jail is all about."
When the ambulance arrived, Williamson says she told the emergency medical technicians that Robinette had physically abused her. She told hospital personnel the same and asked them to photograph her injuries. They allegedly refused to do so.
According to the complaint, while Williamson was lying in the hospital bed, Robinette came in and placed a citation for obstruction and disorderly conduct on the bed "with a hateful look" in his eye.
Williamson says the charges were dismissed by a Logan magistrate on June 9, 2008 because the charges hadn't been reduced to writing.
Prior to Jan. 1, 2008, Williamson says she lodged a formal complaint against the defendants with the sheriff's department. She says no one from the department has ever followed up on the complaint.
On Jan. 1, 2008, Williamson says her house was set on fire. She says firefighters determined it was a case of arson. She claims the sheriff's department did not investigate the arson.
Six months later, Williamson says her car was set on fire while parked in her front yard. She claims the sheriff's department didn't investigate this alleged arson, either.
Williamson "believes that the (Logan County Sheriff's Department), acting through the (defendants), either directly or indirectly were responsible for the aforementioned arson, and that it was an attempt to retaliate against (Williamson) for filing her complaint," the lawsuit says.
Williamson says she asserts that one or all of the defendants either set the fires or encouraged others to set the fires.
She's seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages as well as legal costs.
Timothy Rosinsky and Kerry A. Nessel are representing the plaintiff. The case is assigned to federal Judge John T. Copenhaver.
U.S. District Court case number: 2:09-cv-0615