CHARLESTON – Eighteen months after it successfully nabbed a murder suspect, a police dragnet in Logan County has turned up a lawsuit.
The West Virginia State Police and the Chapmanville Police Department are named as co-defendants in a civil rights suit filed by Gary Price. In his suit filed July 26 in Kanawha Circuit Court, Price alleges he was brutalized by three troopers from the State Police's Logan detachment, and two CPD officers during a search conducted early last year for Chad "Pock" Williams, who was accused of shooting and killing his housemate.
According to the suit, Price's girlfriend, Violent Maynard, answered a knock at their door about 8 p.m. on Jan. 30, 2011. A black man who identified himself as "Pock" asked if he could have some cigarettes.
While Maynard went to get cigarettes, Price says he went into the living room to make a phone call. About five to 10 minutes later, "Pock" left his house.
Later that evening around 10 p.m., Price says one trooper and one CPD officer stopped by his house, and inquired if they saw Williams. When he learned that Williams was "Pock," Price told the officers about Williams' earlier visit to get cigarettes.
According to the suit, Price gave the officers permission to search his home. When they left 10 minutes later, Price says he went to bed.
The next morning about 4 a.m., Maynard placed a call to 911 on behalf of Bobby Frye, a friend with cancer who was staying with she and Price. About that time, the suit alleges an unidentified number of police officers "wearing camouflage and carrying rifles swarmed the home and pounded on the door."
Though Maynard asked the police to identify themselves, the suit alleges they continued to pound on the door harder. Later, they "proceeded to open the door ... and entered the home without a warrant."
After being awakened by the pounding, Price says, he entered the living room, and inquired as to the reason for the officers' presence. When he did, an unidentified trooper told him to "'sit the fuck down.'"
According to the suit, about that same time another unidentified trooper told Maynard to get off the phone. When she didn't, the trooper "forcefully took the phone from [her] and hung it up."
The officers then separated all the residents. While Price remained in the living room, Maynard and Price's daughter were taken into one of the bedrooms, and Frye was taken "outside into the cold weather."
After he was separated from Maynard and Frye, Price alleges the officers began interrogating him as to Williams' whereabouts. Despite telling them he did not know, the officers accused him of lying, including one who said "'This is what it will get you if you obstruct a murder investigation.'"
According to The Logan Banner, Williams got into an argument with Jason E. Horne on the morning of Jan. 30. After shooting Horne in the head four times at the residence they shared in Godby Heights, a suburb of Chapmanville, Williams went on the lam for the next 11 days.
Sometime during the interrogation, Price inquired as to the warrant they had to enter his home. After he did, the suit alleges Trooper Dick hit him in the head with a MagLight flashlight.
Upon being struck, Price says he "fell over a chair and into the floor." At that point, three unidentified troopers "began kicking [him] about the face and ribs."
According to the suit, Price was then handcuffed, transported to the State Police barracks in Logan and chained to a chair. When troopers threatened to keep him there and give him "'another ass kicking'" until he provided a statement, Price says he then requested to speak with a lawyer.
Sometime thereafter, Price was transported to Logan Regional Medical Center, and chained to a hospital bed during the duration of his stay. At an unspecified time, Magistrate Leonard Codispoti arraigned Price at LRMC, and released him on a personal recognizance bond.
According to the suit, Codispoti told Price "the cops 'did a pretty good job on you'" and he "'should have told them what they want to know.'" Following the arraignment, Price was taken to Charleston Area Medical Center, and treated for his injuries.
According to the Logan Magistrate Clerk's Office, Price was charged with one count each of obstruction of, assault on and battery of a police officer, all misdemeanors. A bench trial is scheduled for Sept. 11 before Magistrate Dwight Williamson.
According to The Banner, Williams was captured by police on Feb. 9, 2011 in the basement of the home where he shot Horne. In September, he was indicted by the Logan grand jury on a charge of first-degree murder, and in March, accepted a plea of second-degree murder.
Currently, he is an inmate at the Tygart Valley Regional Jail in Belington outside of Elkins in Randolph County.
Also, The Banner reported that two Chapmanville men, Darren Keith Midkiff, and Ronald Wade Bentley, were charged with being an accessory after the fact. Though they initially denied knowing Williams' whereabouts, an investigation later discovered that Bentley allowed Williams to hide at his place immediately after the shooting, and Midkiff later gave him shoes and blanket to hide in the woods.
According to his suit, Price avers that not only were police unable to locate Williams at his home following the shooting, but also they failed to establish any evidence he had any knowledge of Williams' whereabouts. Nevertheless, because of the "extreme and unprovoked brutality of the police officers" in searching for Williams at his house, Price says he's suffered multiple emotional and physical injuries, including a fractured orbital socket.
Along with Dick, troopers B.A. Lowe and P.A. Jones along with CPD officers Miller, and Nick Tucker are named as co-defendants in the suit. In addition to ones for violations of his constitutional rights, Price makes claims of abuse of process, and negligence against them.
Price seeks unspecified damages, attorneys and court costs. He is represented by Matthew S. Criswell with the Charleston law firm of Criswell, French and Condaras.
The case is assigned to Judge James C. Stucky.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number 12-C-1467