CHARLESTON - A Kanawha County man who was allegedly pulled from his car and beaten by two members of the Charleston Police Department is suing the police department and the city.
Mitchell Cobb filed the suit March 18 in the Kanawha Circuit Court, claiming he was assaulted and falsely imprisoned after he parked near an undercover drug raid. The suit is against the city, the police department, Officer S.S. Midkiff and Detective D.G. McDaniel.
According to the suit, Cobb and his girlfriend, Ashley Fore, were driving to Wendy's on March 20, 2007. While driving from his home on Beech Avenue, Cobb claims a part of Garvin Avenue and a portion of Washington Avenue were blocked by several civilian-appearing vehicles.
Cobb claims he pulled his vehicle to the side of Garvin Avenue, approximately 50 yards from the blocking vehicles, and parked to "await a resolution of the blockage," the suit says.
"Unbeknownst to Cobb, the reason for the blockage was an undercover drug raid or arrest being conducted by Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team officers, including Midkiff and McDaniel," the suit says.
The vehicles blocking the road were undercover police vehicles, with no lights, sirens or other identifying marks, the suit says.
"After being stopped for approximately two minutes, a bearded man, wearing baggy jeans, a baseball cap, a skull-and-crossbones T-shirt, jacket and boots quickly approached Cobb's vehicle, carrying a large metal flashlight," the suit says.
The man allegedly approached the passenger side door and asked Cobb and Fore where they were going, to which they simultaneously replied they were going to Wendy's.
Cobb claims the man then walked to the driver's side, opened the door, and using vulgar and highly offensive language, demanded he exit the car, then grabbed Cobb's left arm and physically pulled him from the vehicle.
The man was Officer S.S. Midkiff, a member of MDENT, but Cobb claims he did not identify himself.
Cobb claims Midkiff shoved him and forcefully grabbed him, while shouting at him to stand spread-eagle at the back of his vehicle. According to the suit, Cobb attempted to comply with all of Midkiff's demands, but Midkiff was verbally assaulting and kicking the instep of his foot.
McDaniel joined Midkiff at some point, the suit says, and together they began searching Cobb. According to the suit, one of the officers grabbed Cobb's legs and pulled them into the air, forcing Cobb to fall to the ground. Cobb claims he struck his face on the rear of his vehicle on the way to the ground.
Midkiff and McDaniel then began to arrest Cobb and twist his arms behind his back to place them in handcuffs. Cobb claims he then realized he was being assaulted by police officers.
According to the suit, McDaniel and Midkiff began striking Cobb with their fist and either a baton or a flashlight. The suit says Cobb lost consciousness for a period of time.
Photographs taken after the attack indicate that he was struck numerous times in the temples, neck and head, the suit says.
"During the attack, other officers arrived at the vehicle and physically prevented Ashley Fore from exiting the vehicle," the suit says. "During the restraint, Ashley Fore was also threatened with arrest."
In the suit, Cobb claims he recalls being lifted by the arms, then being carried or dragged down the road to the vehicles. He was then taken to the police station on Court Street.
Cobb claims he at no time obstructed or resisted the actions of Midkiff and McDaniel, and that he was never told why he was removed from his vehicle, beaten and arrested, the suit says.
After Cobb was removed from the scene, his car remained because it has a manual transmission, which no one on the scene could drive, including Fore. Fore claims she was not offered transportation to her home and was unable to drive herself.
"She was then told by an unidentified officer, using vulgar and highly offensive language, that it would be funny if she were sexually attacked when walking home," the suit says.
Cobb was taken to jail and arrested for driving under the influence, which was later dismissed. He claims he was denied medical treatment for his injuries, which are believed to be permanent.
In the 11-count suit, Cobb claims he suffered assault and battery, was falsely imprisoned, suffered indignity, embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress, annoyance and inconvenience.
Cobb seeks compensatory and punitive damages for his injuries.
Attorney Shawn R. Romano is representing Cobb. The case has been assigned to Judge Irene Berger.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number 08-C-520