Charleston Police Department asks to dismiss excessive force lawsuit

By Kyla Asbury | Jul 5, 2017

CHARLESTON – The Charleston Police Department has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against its officers for excessive force.

Attorneys Paul Ellis and Michael Mullens are representing two unidentified Charleston police officers who were accused of excessive force and racial profiling of a 15-year-old and his young cousin in February. The attorneys filed the motion to dismiss on June 30 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

According to the motion to dismiss, two juveniles believed to have been involved in a Feb. 1 break-in and robbery at the Delaware Avenue home of an 84-year-old woman were seen walking west from Ohio Avenue.

The officers denied allegations that they used unnecessary force and failed to identify themselves when they encountered the minors, according to the motion.

The officers claimed they were wearing clearly marked police vests at the time of the encounter. They also alleged they were not racially profiling X’Zane Watts and Fenix Watts because the suspect they had been dispatched to look for was also a black male about the same age.

The officers also claim they were alerted that the suspect they had been looking for was taken in to custody a short distance away while they were speaking with Charissa Watts, X’Zane Watts’ mother, after the encounter.

The incident alleged in the complaint occurred on Feb. 3. X’Zane Watts and his toddler cousin, Fenix Watts, were standing in an alley near their home when the two unidentified Charleston police officers saw them, made an abrupt stop, reversed their vehicle back in front of the boys, exited their vehicle with their guns directed toward the boys and began shouting profanities, according to the suit.

X’Zane Watts immediately picked up Fenix Watts and ran with him toward their home, while the officers chased them at gun point, the complaint alleges.

Charissa Watts, X’Zane Watts’ mother, claims the defendants chased X’Zane into his home and, during a forceful takedown, struck him in the head with a firearm. The officers ultimately realized they had mistakenly identified X’Zane Watts and that he was the accidental target of an intense, aggressive and illegal arrest.

The plaintiffs are represented by Michael Cary of Cary Law Office.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 17-C-795

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