Suit claims police illegally searched, took cash

By Lawrence Smith | Aug 7, 2009

This hotel in South Charleston is where John Bradberry alleges police entered his room without a warrant on May 11, and confiscated over $7,000 in cash. Since he has not been charged with a crime, Bradberry filed suit last month seeking return of his money. (Photo by Lawrence Smith)

CHARLESTON - A guest at a Charleston-area hotel claims in a lawsuit he was a victim of a robbery. The alleged robbers, the man claims, were the cops.

On July 16, John Bradberry filed suit in Kanawha Circuit Court against the city of South Charleston. In his complaint, Bradberry alleges, while staying at a local hotel, officers entered his room without a warrant, and, without cause or explanation, confiscated a large amount of cash he had on hand.

According to court records, Bradberry was staying at the Microtel Inn on Second Avenue on May 11. The reason Bradberry was staying at the hotel is unclear.

However, at a time not specified, an unknown number of South Charleston police officers "entered [his] hotel room, and caused him to be the subject of a warrantless and illegal search." While in the room, police "confiscated in excess of $7,000 in cash in which [Bradberry] had with him."

In his suit, Bradberry alleges "at no time during the illegal search and seizure did said officers locate any drugs, drug paraphernalia or indicia for illegal drug use." Also, the "search and seizure was illegal in that it was compiled without probable cause that the plaintiff had committed any violations of law."

Prior to leaving his hotel, Bradberry maintains that he was never served with any summons to appear in court to answer to any criminal charges. A search of records in both Kanawha Magistrate and Circuit courts prior to presstime show no pending criminal complaints against Bradberry or any prior convictions.

Bradberry, who is black, alleges that the search, and subsequent confiscation of his money, was racially motivated. He avers that all attempts to "peaceably have his property restored have proved futile."

The incident, Bradberry says, has caused him to suffer "embarrassment, humiliation, loss of his civil rights, and sustained loss of his money for in excess of two months."

In addition to return of all his money, Bradberry is seeking unspecified damages.

He is represented by Charleston attorney, and former Kanawha County Prosecutor Michael T. Clifford.

The case has been assigned to Judge Paul Zakaib.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 09-C-1283

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