CORRECTION - In the story below it was wrongly reported that Johnny Walls was hired as a Chesapeake officer in May 2008.
The information provided to the Gazette by the state Law Enforcement Training (LET) unit of the Division of Justice and Community Services was incorrect. He completed the eight classes for equivalent certification and was certified as a West Virginia police officer at that time, but wasn't employed in Chesapeake past June 25, 2005.
The story below has been changed to reflect this correction.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The police officer who witnesses say dragged an 80-year-old man off his ATV and slammed him to the concrete had difficulty getting certified as a police officer in West Virginia, state records show.
Cedar Grove officer Johnny Walls went through three West Virginia police departments and twice received training in Ohio before becoming a fully certified officer while working in Chesapeake, state records show.
On Aug. 16, Robert McComb was riding ATVs with his friends, Darrell Cole and Bobby Palmer, and was heading back to his house in Cedar Grove after coming out of the woods when he was stopped by Walls.
Witness Carrie Balser said she watched in horror as McComb was pulled off of the side of the ATV by Walls and slammed to the concrete face-first.
Palmer, who said he rode up to the scene after McComb was on the ground, said blood was dripping down McComb's face from a gash on his forehead and that skin was torn off his right arm.
McComb was hospitalized for three days after the incident. On Saturday, Cedar Grove residents held a candle light vigil for McComb, who attended.
On Monday, Cedar Grove Mayor James Hudnall said the incident remains under investigation. He said Walls was still employed as of Monday with Cedar Grove, but that he was on leave.
Hudnall said he called Kanawha County prosecutor Mark Plants and was asking him for advice about what to do about the situation.
Karen McComb, Robert McComb's daughter, said Monday that her father was doing well at his home. She said she hadn't been contacted by any other law enforcement agencies about the case.
McComb said she talked to Hudnall on Saturday.
"I said to him that I respect him as a long-time friend and wanted to say to him ... that I believe leadership is ultimately responsible for its employees," she said.
"We need to hold everyone accountable, and if we don't, then the mayor is as guilty as they are."
Missy Kane owns the Exxon in Cedar Grove. She said the Cedar Grove police have done nothing to help her business.
"That's because I stand up for myself and they want people to cower down to them. I refuse to do it," she said.
Kane said she once requested Walls investigate a former employee who was caught on video stealing from her store and he refused.
"They're a joke," she said of Cedar Grove police.