CLARKSBURG – A Fairmont police officer and the Marion County Sheriff’s Department are off the hook in a former Fairmont State University student’s civil rights suit.
U.S. District Judge Irene M. Keeley on Nov. 30 granted a motion filed by David M. Granau and P. Todd Phillips, co-counsel for Justin Byrd, to dismiss Fairmont Police Department Patrolman Dave Wolford and a deputy identified as John Doe from the suit.
In separate motions filed two days before, Granau and Phillips said in the course of discovery “a careful investigation” found the deputy “was not sufficiently involved in the subject illegal search to warrant his continued designation as a Defendant in this case” and Wolford “engaged in no actionable misconduct.”
Absent any claims against the John Doe deputy, Granau and Phillips last month moved to dismiss MCSD from the suit. Records show Keeley granted the motion, which was joined by MCSD’s co-counsel, Katie Hicklin and Wendy Greve, on April 1.
The city of Fairmont and Patrolman Aaron Dalton are the remaining defendants in the case.
In his suit, Byrd alleges Dalton used race as a pretext to conduct an illegal search of his car following a fender-bender with a white woman on March 26, 2011. Instead of taking a report, Byrd says that upon arriving on the scene, Dalton inquired if he and his two fellow black FSU students in the car with him had any guns or drugs.
According to the suit, Byrd was told to sit in the back of Dalton’s cruiser while a drug-sniffing dog conducted a search. In the course of the search, Byrd says the dog damaged both his laptop computer and its case when the dog latched onto and began shaking it.
Along with ones for civil rights, Byrd makes a claim against Dalton and the city for violation of the West Virginia anti-racial profiling statute.
The case is scheduled to begin trial on March 3.
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, case number 12-cv-132