Elkview couple sues individuals for unreasonable search and seizure

By Kyla Asbury | May 16, 2016

CHARLESTON – An Elkview couple is suing 11 individuals it claims are responsible for an unreasonable search and seizure against them that occurred in 2014.

J.D. Perry, R.S. Minor, J.R. Powers, L.G. O’Brian, S.W. Perdue, Pamela Ingram, and five unknown and unnamed individuals were named as defendants in the suit.

On May 1, 2014, Sara Carpenter’s then 16-year-old daughter, following an argument with her mother, ran away from home and to the home of her paternal grandfather, Chris Jarrett, who had been engaged in an ongoing custody dispute with Sarah Carpenter and Robert Carpenter over grandparent custodial rights and visitation, according to a complaint filed May 5 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

Sara Chapman immediately contacted the West Virginia State Police and met with Trooper Stepp, who located the child at Jarrett’s home.

Jarrett made accusations to Stepp that the plaintiffs were unfit parents and that they were drug dealers. He also asked for permission to keep the child and Stepp investigated the complaints and found no reason not to return the child to the plaintiffs’ home, according to the suit.

The Chapmans claim the following day, Jarrett filed a domestic violence protective order petition against Sara Carpenter, which was granted on a temporary basis with a hearing scheduled for mid-May 2014 and Jarrett then picked up the child from school, without notification to the plaintiffs.

On May 13, 2014, at approximately 10:30 p.m., one day prior to the plaintiffs’ hearing, West Virginia State Troopers Minor and Powers arrived at the plaintiffs’ home, along with two plain-clothed individuals and identified themselves as being from the Quincy Detachment of the West Virginia State Police, according to the suit.

The Chapmans claim their home is not within the geographical vicinity of the Quincy Detachment, but rather is in the vicinity of the South Charleston Detatchment.

Upon information and belief, Jarrett’s nephew is a sergeant in the WVSP who was stationed at the Quincy Detachment at the time and Jarrett had sought assistance from his nephew in order to gather evidence against the Chapmans to use in Family Court the following day, according to the suit.

The Chapmans claim since Robert Chapman had been convicted of statutory rape years prior and had to register each year as a sex offender, Perry determined to use the sex offender verification process as a “Trojan Horse” to attempt to get into the plaintiffs’ residence in order to search for evidence sought by Jarrett.

Upon arrival at the residence, the defendants knocked on the door, which was answered by Sara Chapman’s stepson, and when he opened the door, one of the troopers “grabbed him on the back of his neck and led him forcefully through the house into the kitchen, where…Sara Chapman was located, along with her nephew,” the complaint states.

The Chapmans claim once in the kitchen, they stated they were there to verify Robert Carpenter’s sex offender registry and Sara Chapman, her stepson and her nephew were all forced to sit down in the kitchen with Powers while the others proceeded upstairs and began to search the residence.

Sara Chapman asked to see a search warrant and Minor told her to “shut up and sit down or I’ll cuff you and take you to jail.”

At the time of the entry, Robert Chapman was upstairs putting their four-year-old child to bed and he was immediately escorted to the kitchen while the child was left unattended wandering around the residence, according to the suit.

The Chapmans claim Sara Chapman requested to be able to attend to her child, or to allow her stepson or nephew to be able to assist the four-year-old and the officers refused. The officers then proceeded to search the residence, but found nothing incriminating and ultimately left.

None of the occupants consented to the officers entering the residence and the next morning, the Family Court judge denied Jarrett’s petition, according to the suit.

The CHapmans claim on May 31, 2014, Minor, Perdue and other state troopers obtained a search warrant for the plaintiffs’ residence for the purpose of seeking evidence of felony delivery of controlled substances and the Sara Chapman was arrested at her home and the search warrant was performed, but no incriminating evidence was found.

Three K-9 drug dogs were taken through the residence and property was destroyed in the process, but no drugs or other incriminating evidence was found to substantiate the arrest, according to the suit.

The Chapmans claim Jarrett used his relationship with the state police to get Child Protective Services and the Department of Health and Human Resources to investigate and file an abuse and neglect petition for removal of the Chapmans’ children and on June 6, 2014, a preliminary hearing was held in Kanawha Circuit Court in which the action was dismissed.

The Chapmans are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are being represented by John H. Bryan of John H. Bryant – Attorneys At Law.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 2:16-cv-04199

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