Suit alleges brutality by Smithers police officers

By Lawrence Smith | Jul 31, 2009

CHARLESTON - A Fayette County man is alleging he was brutalized for no apparent reason by two police officers following a traffic stop in Smithers last year.

Michael Wallace filed suit against the city of Smithers on July 7. In his complaint filed in Kanawha Circuit Court, Wallace alleges that he was attacked, and later beaten by Smithers police officers W.R. Callison and A.E. Roberts in January 2008.

According to court records, Wallace was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Michael Neal heading east on U.S. 60 in Smithers on Jan. 3. About 8 p.m., Callison and Roberts stopped Neal after they observed him traveling east of the centerline.

After stopping the vehicle, Roberts approached Neal while Callison approached Wallace. After ordering him to step out of the vehicle, Callison "then 'found' a 'crack' pipe in Wallace's pocket and immediately restrained [him] by placing him in handcuffs."

Next, Wallace alleges Callison threw him to the ground, kicked and hit him in the head and later grabbed him by the hair and later repeatedly smashed his face into the ground. The beating continued until Wallace says he was "unconscious and bleeding."

The attack, Wallace alleges, was "unwarranted, as [he] was restrained in handcuffs, made no threatening gestures and otherwise posed no threat to the safety of the individual defendants." Wallace further alleges "despite the extent and severity of [his] injuries, Defendants Callison and Roberts reported that the injuries were the result of [him] slipping on a patch of ice."

According to his suit, Wallace's injuries include lacerations to his eyes, face and top of his head, broken teeth, severe bruising to his face and body and permanent nerve damage to his arm and had. As a result of this injuries, Wallace maintains he suffered severe mental and psychological damages, emotional distress and mental anguish.

Wallace suit makes claims of assault and battery, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy and negligent supervision and training. Along with court costs and attorney fees, Wallace is seeking unspecified damages against the defendants, both jointly and severally, up to the limits of the city's insurance policy.

Wallace is represented by Eric B. Snyder with the Charleston law firm of Bailey and Glasser. The case is assigned to Judge James C. Stucky.

Second lawsuit

Wallace's suit is the second one pending against the city of Smithers that names Roberts as a co-defendant.

In June, Tonya Kay Terrell, alleges the year before, Roberts stopped her without reason. After she was placed in handcuffs, Terrell says that Roberts made a call on his cell phone.

Shortly thereafter, Montgomery Police officer Shawn Hutchinson shows up in street clothes, and in his personal vehicle. She alleges that after Hutchinson flashed a business card identifying him as a member of the "Valley Narcotics Task Force" and placed in her underpants, both he and Roberts offered to release her if she would either engage in some drug buys or have sex with them.

When she refused, Roberts placed her under arrest and transported her to Montgomery General Hospital for a urine sample. During her trip to both MGH, and later to the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver, Terrell said Roberts would make her life "a living hell" if she told anyone what happened.

Also, during the trip to SRJ, Terrell alleges Roberts drove fast and reckless, and turned the car's radio on high after she complained of a migraine headache.

Records show Terrell was charged with one count each of DUI, no proof of insurance, possession of a controlled substance and driving on a suspended license. After pleading no contest to the latter charge, and agreeing to pay a fine and court costs, the other charges against Terrell were dropped.

Like Wallace, Terrell's suit, among other things, makes claims for assault and battery, and negligent supervision

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 09-C-1219

More News

The Record Network