East Bank woman sues city, police officers for harassment

CHARLESTON – An East Bank woman is suing the city and two police officers after she claims she was harassed because of her involvement with a community petition.

In September 2008, Edna Hamm helped gather signatures in her community for a petition to remove a police protection fee of $5 from the citizens' water bills in protest of what the community believed was inadequate protection by the police department, according to a complaint filed Jan. 18 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Hamm claims the petition was successful, which led her to be subjected to harassment by members of the East Bank Police Department, including the Chief of Police, Jess Inclenrock, and another police officer, J.R. Carte.

Beginning in July 2009, Hamm began to have difficulties with her neighbor, Melinda Estep, who yelled profanities at her and tried to engage in a physical fight with her and her daughter-in-law, according to the suit.

That evening, Estep called Carte, who was a personal friend, and "as a result, a criminal complaint was taken out against the plaintiff alleging an assault on Estep," according to the suit.

Hamm claims Carte assured her that the complaint would not go anywhere and that it would not be necessary for her to put her mailing address on the statement she was asked to provide.

Despite the assurances, the complaint was filed and because there was no mailing address provided, Hamm did not receive a notice to appear in court and was the subject of a bench warrant for her failure to appear, according to the suit.

Hamm claims while the case was working its way through the court system, she still had problems with Estep and made several calls to the police department, pleading with them to help her with the situation.

"Her pleas were refused and the harassment by Ms. Estep continued until the Esteps moved in November," the complaint states.

Hamm claims the defendants' actions were done in bad faith and were done maliciously.

Hamm is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Michael T. Clifford.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Tod J. Kaufman.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 11-C-83

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