Woman claims troopers used pepper spray on genitals

By Kelly Holleran | Sep 11, 2008

A Logan County woman has filed suit against four state troopers, West Virginia State Police Col. David Lemmon and two state agencies, claiming the troopers pepper sprayed her genitals after arresting her.

Angela Denise Bunting claims she was arrested after an altercation at a gentleman's club in Logan County on Sept. 14, 2006, according to a complaint filed Sept. 9 in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

Troopers Simmons and Jones arrived at the scene of the fight, and Bunting was subdued with pepper spray, placed in handcuffs and leg chains and transported to the local state police detachment, the suit states.

Once there, she claims she was placed on a bench and shackled to the floor with a handcuff and chain.

Simmons, Jones, Fry and Doe began to beat Bunting with their hands, fists, knees, feet and elbows as she was lying shackled to the floor, according to the complaint.

The complaint does not list the troopers' first names or their ranks.

"At one point, the Defendants used Pepper spray, spraying Pepper spray on Ms. Bunting's unprotected vagina," the suit states.

Bunting claims she was beaten on her face, stomach, back, arms, torso and legs.

While she was beaten, she was screaming out in pain, the suit states.

Bunting was bleeding in her mouth, and attempted to stop the troopers' attacks at one point by spitting blood at them and claiming she was HIV positive, according to the complaint.

She claims she was charged with attempted murder for spitting the blood, but the charge was later dismissed because she did not have HIV.

Bunting claims the troopers attacked her without provocation or justification.

The troopers unnecessarily used excessive and injurious force and their actions were willful, wanton, intentional, malicious and done with reckless disregard for Bunting's safety, the suit alleges.

Because the troopers used excessive force, they violated Bunting's Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizures, according to the complaint.

She claims Lemmon, the West Virginia State Police and the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety were negligent because they had a duty to adequately supervise and train employees to make arrests as safely as possible. The troopers' inadequate training caused them to use excessive force against her, according to the complaint.

Bunting claims she suffered injuries including a violation of her constitutional rights, physical injuries, severe emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-confidence, mental anguish and economic loss.

"Trooper Defendants' conduct caused Ms. Bunting to suffer emotional distress that was so severe that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it," the suit states.

Bunting is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

She has demanded a trial by jury.

She is represented by Mark L. French and Matthew S. Criswell of Criswell & French in Charleston.

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