Woman blames W.Va. State Police for father's death

By Kyla Asbury | Jul 8, 2015

CHARLESTON - A Clay County woman is suing the West Virginia State Police after she claims it is responsible for her father's death.

First Sgt. M.L. Oglesby II; First Sgt. R.L. Mefford; Sgt. S.T. Harper; Sgt. T.L. Berry; TFC J.M. Comer Sr.; Trooper B.A. Lowe; TFC A.M. Whittington Sr.; Trooper J.D. Hensley; TFC R. J. Drake Sr.; Trooper J. K. Harris; Cpl. C. L. Adkins; Cpl. K. H. Totten; TFC N. K. Campbell; and Cpl. W. M. Comer were also named as defendants in the suit.

On June 19, 2013, Comer completed an affidavit and application for search warrant for the property and curtilage of Richard Dale Kohler in Clay County, according to a complaint filed June 25 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

Tammi Hicks, administratrix of Kohler's estate, claims on June 24, 2013, W.M. Comer completed a DEA Operational Field Plan for the execution of the search warrant and on June 26, 2013, the defendants executed the search warrant.

Hicks claims the defendants approached the residence of Kohler and without justification or provocation, they discharged multiple firearms into the unopened door of the residence, opened the door and fired again, striking Kohler and inflicting fatal wounds.

The defendants each gave statements that they had knocked on the door and announced their presence and that they waited a reasonable time for a response before proceeding to manually breach the door, according to the suit. The defendants also contended that they opened the door to find Kohler with a long rifle.

Hicks claims the defendants' actions were wholly arbitrary, unreasonable and malicious, thus constituting a violation of the plaintiff's clearly established substantive and procedural due process rights protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.

The defendants violated Kohler's civil rights and the West Virginia Constitution with their actions, according to the suit.

Hicks claims the defendants actions also constitute battery under the statutes and common law of West Virginia.

Hicks is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Michael T. Clifford

The case is assigned to Circuit Judge Thomas E. Johnston.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 2:15-cv-08450

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