Other civil rights suit against Oak Hill PD still pending

By Lawrence Smith | Oct 17, 2013


HUNTINGTON - In addition to the one filed by Marcus Quadale Grasty, the Oak Hill Police Department and two of its officers are defendants in another civil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court.

Yvette Wilshire two years ago filed suit against Dr. Brian Love and the Plateau Medical Center, alleging they contributed to the death of her son, Brian Rinehart, who died on Aug. 26, 2009, after he ingested a bag of cocaine four days earlier. Specifically, Wilshire alleged Love and PMC staff treated and released Rinehart back to OHPD after officers brought him to the emergency room.

Though Brian’s death eventually occurred in Raleigh County, Wilshire filed suit against PMC and Love in Putnam Circuit Court since Love, at the time, was a Scott Depot resident.

Following initial discovery in the suit, Love filed a motion in May to file a third-party complaint against OHPD. In his motion, Love alleged Rinehart’s death was not caused by his failure to treat him, but instead by “the excessive force of the Oak Hill Police Department Officers and their failure to properly identify and manage his excited delirium while in their custody.”

Love maintained depositions taken of both officers involved in Rinehart’s arrest and their supervisors, including OHPD Chief Michael Whisman, Jr., revealed they had “insufficient or non-existent training in how to handle suspects exhibiting signs of delirium under the control of narcotics.”

Also, in his motion, Love said a third-party complaint was necessary because OHPD was refusing to produce additional records on the lack of officer training since they were not defendants in the original suit.

In a three-page order, Judge Phillip M. Stowers granted Love’s motion on June 13. In his complaint filed the same day, Love alleged Rinehart’s death was a result of, among other things, “restraint, compressional and/or positional asphyxia” when he went limp after Lt. Randall Shannon Prince and Officer Cody Franklin Wingo forcibly put a “spit mask” on Rinehart.

The complaint alleges Prince and Wingo placed the mask on Rinehart around 10:11 p.m. on Aug. 22, 2009, after stopping on U.S. 19 en route to the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver. Prince and Wingo were able to put the mask on Rinehart, the complaint says, only after they each “rolled down a gravel embankment into a grassy area.”

As a result of claims of constitutional rights violations Love raised in his complaint, which named Whisman and Prince as co-defendants, OHPD’s attorneys, Chip E. Williams and Daniel Burns, on June 21 filed a notice of removal to federal court.

After filing their answer in July to Love’s complaint, in which they denied his allegations, OHPD, Whisman and Prince on Aug. 8 filed a motion to dismiss it citing, among other things, their qualified immunity for their actions as police officers and that the claims he raised are time-barred.

The case is assigned to Judge Robert C. “Chuck” Chambers.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia 13-cv-15201

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