Inmates accuse jail authority of excessive force during search raids

By Jessica Karmasek | Sep 4, 2015

CHARLESTON – A Charleston attorney has filed seven separate complaints regarding the “unreasonable and excessive force” allegedly used by members of special response teams at two of the state’s regional jails.

Paul M. Stroebel of Stroebel & Johnson PLLC filed two lawsuits on July 23, two on Aug. 7 and three on Aug. 11. All were filed in Kanawha Circuit Court.

The named defendants in the lawsuits include various correctional officers, response team members – named and unnamed – and the West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority, or WVRJCFA.

The seven plaintiffs – all inmates at either the South Central Regional Jail in Charleston or the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver – include DeSean Moses, Gary Baker, Travis Hinkle, Sean Lawson, Tracey Brown, James R. Cook and Barry A. Yearout.

The complaints allege the WVRJCFA, in July 2013, spring 2014 and June 2014, conducted raids at the two jails using members of the response team to search inmates’ cells for contraband.

The team members, the lawsuits allege, used “unreasonable and excessive force” during the raids.

In one instances, they allegedly shot one of the plaintiffs with a bean bag. In others, they allegedly used flash grenades to disorient and scare inmates.

Stroebel argues in the lawsuits that such tactics are in violation of the U.S. Constitution, the state constitution, West Virginia common law, and jail policies and regulations.

The plaintiffs are each seeking a jury trial; damages for emotional distress, physical injuries and “mental anguish,” among other things; punitive damages; and attorneys’ fees and costs.

More News

The Record Network