Lincoln Co. men sue sheriff's deputy, Kanawha Co. Commission for mistaken identity

By Kyla Asbury | Mar 22, 2010

S. Adkins

B. Adkins

CHARLESTON -- Two Lincoln County men are suing a Kanawha County sheriff's deputy and the Kanawha County Commission in separate lawsuits after they claim they were wrongly arrested and held overnight at the Western Regional Jail.

Shane O'Dell Adkins, 20, of Sod, and Brian Keith Adkins, 28, of West Hamlin, claim Cpl. J.M. Launi issued a warrant for their arrests for aggravated robbery, according to a complaint filed in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Danny Hitchcock, the alleged robbery victim, reported he had been assaulted and robbed by his cousins, Shane and Brian Adkins, who are brothers, according to the suit.

Shane O'Dell Adkins and Brian Keith Adkins are neither brothers nor Hitchcock's cousins, and claim Launi failed to verify he had the correct suspects before charging them.

According to the criminal complaint Launi filed in Kanawha Magistrate Court on Dec. 13, Hitchcock was a passenger in a car driven by Brian Adkins on W.Va. 817 in St. Albans. Shane was also a passenger, but in the backseat.

At a time not stated, Brian pulled the vehicle off the side of road in front of Box 419 at the intersection of W.Va. 817 and 2nd Street North. Brian then allegedly struck Hitchcock "several times on the head and face with an unknown metal object" resulting in him "suffer[ing] bleeding lacerations to his face and his left eye."

During this time, Hitchcock alleges Shane, who was sitting directly behind him, "attempted to wrap a seatbelt around the neck of the victim in an attempt to restrain him as Brian Adkins struck him on the head." Because Shane was unsuccessful in restraining Hitchcock, Brian exited the vehicle, ran over the passenger's side, pulled Hitchcock out and struck him "several more times on the head and face with his fist causing additional injuries."

While he was on the on the ground, Hitchcock alleged Brian reached into his pockets and stole almost $200 in cash and unspecified prescription pain medication. After taking the cash and medication, Brian got back in the car, and drove away "leaving the victim lying beside the road."

The complaints state Hitchcock was able to identify his assailants as Brian and Shane Adkins as they and he "are cousins and the victim has known the defendant[s] his entire life."

Shane O'Dell Adkins claims his mother called him after seeing him featured Jan. 12 on WCHS-TV's "Fugitive Files." He claims when he contacted the tip line to explain the mistake, they said to call back later in the week. He claims when he contacted the West Virginia State Police to remedy the situation, they told him to stay put and a Trooper would come and take down the information.

Shane O'Dell Adkins claims instead of taking down his information, they arrested him in front of family and friends. Brian Keith Adkins claims he was arrested by 10 police officers in front of his girlfriend and daughter, and that they would not listen to him when he explained they did not have the correct Brian Adkins.

Both men were taken to Western in Barboursville, and held overnight in lieu of $100,00 bond.

Records show both were released on Jan. 13 after Kanawha County Magistrate Paris Workman granted a motion by the Kanawha County Prosecutor's Office dismissing the charges. In the motion she filed in both cases, Assistant Kanawha County Prosecutor Michelle Drummond said "Based on follow-up investigation this is not the person who committed the crime,"

Along with Launi, and the Commission, both suits name Chief Deputy Sheriff Jonathan Rutherford as a co-defendant. Both suits make claims for violations of constitutional rights under the 4th, 5th and 14th Amendments, false arrest and negligent supervision and training.

The Adkins's seek unspecified damages for the "medical pain and suffering ... loss of their personalty [sic]...medical and psychological expenses ... injury to reputation and emotional distress" they allege they suffered from their arrest. Paul Biser, with the Huntington law firm of Fredeking, Fredeking and Biser, is representing them.

Shane and Brian Adkins's cases have been assigned to Kanawha Circuit judges Tod J. Kaufman and Louis H. "Duke" Bloom, respectfully.

Kanawha Magistrate Court, case numbers 09-F-2891 and 2893; Kanawha Circuit Court, case numbers 10-C-495 (Shane Adkins) and 496 (Brian Adkins)

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