CLARKSBURG – A lawsuit alleging racial profiling by Fairmont police has come to a conclusion.
U.S. District Judge Irene M. Keeley on Aug. 6 dismissed Justin Byrd’s civil rights suit against the City and Fairmont Police Officer Aaron Dalton after the sides announced they reached a settlement. The terms were not disclosed in court records.
Calls left with David M. Grunau and P. Todd Phillips, Byrd’s attorneys, and Boyd L. Warner, co-counsel for the city, and Dalton were not returned by presstime.
In his suit filed July 2012, Byrd alleged 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.
Later, Byrd said he 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 claims 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 made a claim against Dalton and the city for violation of the West Virginia anti-racial profiling statute
Originally, Dave Wolford, another FPD officer, and the Marion County Sheriff’s Department were named as co-defendants in the suit. Wolford and a deputy identified only as John Doe, Byrd claimed, aided in the illegal search.
However, in November, Keeley granted motions filed by Grunau and Phillips voluntarily dismissing Wolford and the deputy after “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.”