West Virginia Record

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Man says troopers beat him, threatened to kill family

By Justin Anderson | May 11, 2009

CHARLESTON – A Logan County man is suing the West Virginia State Police, claiming four troopers violently beat him and at least one threatened to kill his wife and children.

Roger Cooper, his wife Faith, and their four children, filed a lawsuit April 14 in Kanawha Circuit Court against troopers Wellman, Williams, Seacrest and "John Doe" in addition to Col. Timothy S. Pack, State Police superintendent, the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety and the State Police.

The troopers are only identified in the complaint by their last names.

Cooper, of Ethel, claims that in July 2007, Wellman and Williams, assigned to the Logan detachment, called his mother-in-law asking where he was so they could question him about his brother.

His mother-in-law told the troopers that Cooper was at his residence, the complaint says. Later that day, Cooper claims that as he was returning a telephone call from Wellman and Williams, the troopers were standing on his front porch.

The troopers didn't arrest him, but took him to the detachment for questioning, the complaint says. While they were there, someone called and told the troopers that Cooper's uncle and cousin were hiding drugs at his house and that he was growing marijuana behind the house, the complaint says.

Wellman obtained a consent form to search Cooper's resident and then choked Wellman and threatened to kill his wife and children if Cooper didn't sign the form, the complaint says. Cooper signed the form and the troopers took him to his residence.

On the way, the troopers again threatened to kill Cooper's family if he told anyone that he had been coerced into signing the consent form, the complaint says.

At the residence, Cooper alleges that the troopers took him behind the house and asked him where the marijuana was. When he said he didn't know what they were talking about, he claims Wellman started to choke him and threatened to kill him. Cooper claims Wellman then took him inside the house and choked him there.

Cooper's father showed up at the house and asked what was going on, the complaint says. The complaint says the troopers told his father it was none of his business and eventually both men were arrested and taken to the Logan detachment.

There, Cooper claims that one of the troopers took of his handcuffs and was told that he was either going to fight them or be beaten. Cooper says he declined to fight the troopers and that trooper Williams hit him on the side of the head and knocked him to the ground where Williams, Wellman and Seacrest "stomped" on his body.

Cooper claims at one point during the alleged beating, his wife came to the detachment looking for him and was told that he had been taken to jail. Cooper also claims that an ambulance was called for him, but one of the troopers called off the ambulance.

He was later taken to jail and one of the troopers again allegedly threatened to kill his family if he told anyone. Cooper claims he suffered fractured ribs and cuts and bruises from the alleged beating.

Cooper says he moved to Boone County after this because he feared for his safety.

On May 11, 2008, Cooper claims he headed into Logan County to pick up his wife. On the way, he says he was pulled over for no reason by a state trooper. He says the trooper searched his car and arrested him for possessing pain medication for which Cooper claims he had a prescription.

He was taken to the Logan detachment and left handcuffed in a room, the complaint says. Williams, Wellman, the state trooper that arrested him for the medication, and trooper "John Doe" were in the room with him, Cooper claims.

Williams and Wellman put on gloves and said "We meet again" and "We know who you are now," the complaint says. Then Williams, Wellman and John Doe began beating him and stomping him. The fourth trooper didn't participate in the beating, but didn't call for help, either, the complaint says.

In the end, Cooper claims he was taken to jail, though he says he was never charged with a crime.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

Mark French and Matthew Criswell are representing the plaintiffs. The case is before Kanawha Circuit Judge Louis Bloom.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 09-C-711

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