Family of deceased drug informant sues police departments

By Kyla Asbury | Jul 15, 2016

CHARLESTON – The family of Branda Basham is suing the Charleston Police Department and Nitro Police Department after they claim they are responsible for the death of their daughter.

Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team; C.A. Greene of NPD; and O.B. Morris and J.C. Powell of CPD were also named as defendants in the suit.

Bruce Basham and Cathy Basham, Branda Basham’s parents, claim that the police should have offered drug treatment instead of a job as a paid informant, according to a complaint filed July 11 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

On July 12, 2014, Branda Basham was 22 when she was shot to death on Charleston’s West Side by Marlon “Ice” Dixon, after he found out she was working as a police informant.

The Bashams claim Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team fueled their daughter’s drug addiction by offering her a paid job interacting with dangerous drug dealers, instead of arresting and referring her to drug court or a pre-trial intervention program.

The defendants “turned a blind eye to her drug use and encouraged her to stay on the streets knowing she would continue to use and remain addicted to drugs,” the complaint states.

Before her death, Branda Basham had been committing petty crimes to support her drug habit and was taken into police custody at least five times between January 2014 and her death in July 2014, according to the suit.

The Bashams claim she was recruited to be a paid undercover informant in October 2013 and on each occasion, she was tasked with performing the same highly dangerous job of a vice-narcotics undercover officer despite the fact that she was an untrained civilian.

Dixon shot Branda Basham and admitted in federal court to selling her heroin and wanting to stop her from testifying against him. He was sentenced in June after pleading guilty to tampering with a witness or informant by killing.

The Bashams claim Dixon should not have had a chance to kill their daughter after suspecting her to be an informant and law enforcement officers should have arrested him immediately, as a magistrate had ordered.

Greene made a deal with Dixon that allowed him to remain free for 10 days, through Memorial Day weekend, however, when those 10 days were up, Dixon never turned himself in and police never went searching for him, according to the suit.

Branda Basham was killed two months later and, when her body was found, it showed she had been shot three times—in the fact and in the back, according to the suit. Dixon turned himself in five days later.

The Bashams claim the defendants knew Dixon was dangerous and should have immediately arrested him.

The Bashams are being represented by Paul M. Stroebel and R. Brandon Johnson.

The case is assigned to Circuit Judge Louis H. Bloom.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 16-C-1066

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