CHARLESTON – A judge granted a motion in part to dismiss a lawsuit against Raleigh County Emergency Operating Center and others after the plaintiff claimed two sheriff’s deputies used excessive force.
In regards to Counts Two and Three, the motion to dismiss was granted as to the plaintiff’s request for punitive damages against Raleigh County Commission and in regards to Count Four against the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office as to the request for punitive damages, the motion was granted.
“In regards to Counts Fourteen, Sixteen and Eighteen, the motion is granted as to Officers Meadows and Johnson in their official capacities, but denied as to Officers Meadows and Johnson in their individual capacities,” the Jan. 23 order states.
During the early morning of Nov. 22, 2014, the Philip J. Thomashek II’s wife called 911 and requested that the dispatcher send an ambulance to transport the plaintiff to the hospital because he was exhibiting “unusual behavior and mood changes and she feared he suffered an injury to his head or inadvertent poisoning from the use of volatile automotive paint and cleaners in the garage.”
She then made a second call and canceled the request, stating that she was taking him to the hospital herself, however, despite the second call, the dispatcher dispatched two Raleigh County Sheriff’s Officers, A.S. Meadows and J.D. Johnson, to the plaintiff’s home.
When the officers arrived, the plaintiff was closing the driveway gate and his wife and daughters were already in the car, en route to the hospital, according to the order. The plaintiff’s wife then explained to the senior officer that she was taking him to the hospital because she believed he had suffered head trauma or poisoning that was causing him to exhibit an altered mental state.
The junior officer then asked the plaintiff to get into the officers’ vehicle, but, he was experiencing severe claustrophobia as a result of his medical condition and, believing an ambulance was en route, he requested to wait outside in the open rather than in the officers’ vehicle.
The junior officer then twisted the plaintiff’s arm behind his back and painfully bent his fingers back, according to the order. The senior officer then got involved and the officers used a taser on him multiple times and used pepper spray on him.
The officers also repeatedly slammed Thomashek’s head into the pavement and punched him in the face and head. Thomashek was then arrested on two counts of assault on an officer and obstructing and when the plaintiff’s wife requested they take him to the hospital, they told her they were taking him to jail and then took his rescue inhaler and eyeglasses from him and gave them to his wife.
Thomashek was then taken to Southwestern Regional Jail, where he experienced severe chest pains, a racing heart and excruciating muscle pains and made multiple requests for medical care. His wife also called the jail numerous times to stress her concern of his health and his need for immediate medical care.
The plaintiff was finally transported to the hospital the evening after he was arrested and was admitted for ten days and diagnosed with encephalopathy, acute liver injury and acute rhabdomyolysis.
The charges were later dropped and Thomashek filed the civil action against Raleigh County Sheriff Robert S. Tanner; Meadows and Johnson; the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office; Raleigh County Emergency Operating Center; Raleigh County Commission; John Zilinkski, the director of RCEOC; West Virginia regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority; David A. Farmer, the jail authority director; Southern Regional Jail; and Michael Francis, the administrator of the jail.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 2:17-cv-01904