CHARLESTON –- An eastern Kanawha County municipality is again involved in lawsuit, this time by one of its elected officials alleging he was falsely charged with a crime.
William Thompson filed suit against the Town of East Bank and Steve Smith in Kanawha Circuit Court. In his complaint filed on Sept. 2, Thompson, the town recorder, alleges Smith, a former East Bank police officer, filed criminal charges against him in retaliation for helping to prove Smith falsely arrested another man two years ago.
According to his suit, Smith arrested Todd Conley on Sept. 3, 2008, on allegations he stole water. Smith made the arrest, the suit alleges, despite the fact Conley had a receipt showing he paid the town for the water.
Though the suit is unclear if charges were still pressed against Conley, Thompson says Smith later filed charges against him in Kanawha Magistrate Court for disorderly conduct, obstructing and intimidation and retaliation against an officer. After learning the charges were filed against him, Thompson turned himself in, and was later released on his own recognizance following his arraignment.
Records show three months later the charges were dismissed due to Smith's inability to provide facts to support them.
In his suit, Thompson makes claims against the town and Smith for constitutional violations, negligence and outrageous conduct. As a result of Smith's conduct, Thompson alleges he's suffered "embarrassment, humiliation, annoyance, inconvenience [and] deprivation of liberty."
Thompson seeks unspecified damages. He is represented by Charleston attorney Michael A. Turkaly.
The case is assigned to Judge Jennifer Bailey.
Thompson's suit is the fifth one filed against the town in the last two years alleging problems within the police department.
Last September, Jess Inclenrock, the town police chief, his wife, Christy, Smith and James R. Carte, another town police officer, filed separate lawsuits against the town alleging the council either fired them or cut their hours in retaliation for Thompson's arrest. In their suits, they allege the council's actions stemmed from a regularly scheduled meeting the evening after Thompson was arraigned and released on bond.
During the meeting, Candace White addressed the council about Smith improperly using his Tazer on her two months prior. The council voted to place Smith on administrative leave.
White filed a lawsuit against the town, and Smith in February 2009. Records show Smith was fired for the incident in November 2008 over the objections of Inclenrock who requested the council first hold a hearing to review Smith's actions.
Along with Smith's firing, the council voted to limit the hours of all police officers to no more than an 8-hour daily shift. In their respective suits, Carte and Inclenrock said this created a hardship for them as Carte had to later resign since the reduction in hours resulted in him working part-time, and Inclenrock was moved to a straight night schedule.
Prior to Smith, Christy Inclenrock was fired as the town's municipal clerk. In her suit, she alleged the reason given for her termination was a drop in the number of traffic tickets she processed.
All the suits are still pending.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number 10-C-1592 (Thompson)