Trooper wants attorney's beating case moved to federal court

By Chris Dickerson | Aug 25, 2008


CHARLESTON – One of the State Troopers accused of beating a Charleston attorney so badly that spinal fluid leaked from his nose wants an ensuing civil lawsuit moved to federal court.

Trooper Jason A. Crane filed the notice of removal Monday in U.S. District Court in Charleston. He is one of four Troopers named as defendants in a Kanawha County lawsuit filed by Roger Wolfe.

Wolfe claims two Troopers beat him at the State Police barracks while he waited in the booking office after he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol on June 17, 2007.

Wolfe originally filed the suit June 17 in Kanawha Circuit Court against Emergency Medicine Physicians of Kanawha County and Jason Tackett, a physician employed by EMP. He then re-filed the suit July 21, adding the West Virginia State Police and troopers as defendants. Troopers Paul A. Green, J.K. Rapp, Kristy L. Layne and Superintendent D.L. Lemmon also are named as defendants.

Crane says the suit should be in federal court because Wolfe claims the alleged actions deprived him of his rights under the U.S. Constitution.

According to Wolfe's original suit, he was seated in the booking office when Layne asked him what he was smiling about. Wolfe did not respond, and Layne had a brief conversation with Green.

Green then took Wolfe into an empty room where he was assaulted and battered by Green and Crane while his hands were handcuffed behind him. During the beating, Wolfe began to bleed profusely from his head and nose and suffered severe head trauma.

Because of the head trauma, Wolfe has no memory of the events leading up to, during, or immediately following his assault and battery, the suit says.

Wolfe, who works in the Charleston office of Jackson Kelly, was taken to Thomas Memorial Hospital, where Tackett allowed a supervisory trooper, J.K. Rapp, to interview and take statements from Wolfe instead of immediately treating him. According to the suit, it is obvious from the questions that Wolfe was asked that the trooper was attempting to cover up the fact that troopers had inflicted the injuries.

The interview was attached as an exhibit to the first suit.

"Do you remember going to the WVSP South Charleston office?" Rapp asked.

Wolfe said no, and Rapp asked if he remembered speaking to a female trooper.

"Yes, she got in my face," Wolfe said.

"When you (were) speaking with the female trooper, do you remember trying to kiss her?" Rapp asked.

"No, I was giving her a bunch of shit, and she got in my face," Wolfe said.

"How did you get the knot on your head?"

"I don't know, one of your guys did it," Wolfe said.

At the end of the interview notes, Rapp said that no statements regarding the abuse had been made to hospital staff.

After the interview, Wolfe was taken for a CT scan and to radiology. His head wounds were sutured and the scan and X-rays showed several fractured bones in his nose and face, including the bones around his eyes. Wolfe was released later and went to his primary physician, complaining of pain and watery discharge from his nose, which turned out to be spinal fluid.

Wolfe was admitted to CAMC for treatment of his injuries from June 18 to June 23.

In the 11-count suit, Wolfe seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for his injuries.

Attorney Ben Bailey represents Wolfe, and Gary E. Pullin represents Crane.

Crane's notice says the other defendants in the case have not been served with the complaint at the time of filing.

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