MARTINSBURG – A Morgan County woman is alleging she was falsely arrested by two sheriff’s deputies when she questioned why her son was issued a traffic citation.
Seth A. Place and Richard J. Haynes are named as co-defendants in a civil rights suit filed by Eileen Markous in U.S. District Court. In her complaint filed Nov. 28, Markous, 57, says she and her son Matthew, 25, both of Berkeley Springs, spent almost two years contesting unnecessary criminal charges after she inquired why Matthew, who is a co-plaintiff in the suit, was cited for a loud muffler.
According to the suit, the Markouses on Dec. 3, 2010 went to MCSD’s office to question Place about the citation for defective equipment he recently had given Matthew. The date of the citation is not stated in court records.
At some point in the conversation, Matthew left to go outside to smoke a cigarette. Sometime after he left, Eileen alleges Place, after becoming “irate over the sheer audacity and temerity of an uppity citizen having the impudence to question his authority... forcibly grabbed [her] by the arm in an effort to physically usher her from the premises.”
When she attempted to free herself from his grip, Eileen alleges Place then “threw her into a chair, causing her to strike a wall,” the suit says. Afterwards, he and Haynes arrested her on a charge of battery on a police officer.
According to the suit, Place and Haynes located Matthew, informed him Eileen was just arrested and instructed him to leave. In the course of inquiring why his mother was arrested, Matthew alleges Place “began battering him” and sprayed mace into his face.
Eventually, Place and Haynes subdued Matthew and arrested him on charges of battery of and obstructing a police officer. Later, they took him back into the office with his mother, the suit says.
After they were first taken to an area hospital, the Markouses were transported to the Eastern Regional Jail in Martinsburg and held until they were released on $25,000 bond. The suit does not specify when they were released.
According to the suit, a jury on Aug. 26 found Matthew not guilty on the battery and obstruction charges. Following Matthew’s acquittal, the Morgan County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office on Sept. 11 dismissed the battery charge against Eileen.
In their suit, the Markouses maintain they never “engaged in any unlawful act or omission that warranted or justified their respective arrests by Place and Haynes.” Furthermore, they say their arrests were “undertaken by Place and Haynes in the absence of any reasonable suspicion or probable cause.”
The Markouses make claims against not only Place and Haynes, but also MCSD and the Morgan County Commission for intentional inflection of emotional distress, battery, malicious prosecution, civil conspiracy and defamation. In West Virginia, the county sheriff and commission are co-employers of deputy sheriffs.
The Markouses seek unspecified damages, attorneys fees and court costs. They are represented by Robert G. McCoid with the Wheeling law firm of McCamic, Sacco and McCoid.
The case is assigned to Judge Gina M. Groh.