According to the six-page public report produced by the professional standards section in 2009, 13 troopers were dismissed that year based on sustained allegations, up from three the previous year. An additional 19 resigned prior to discipline. There were a total of 112 incidents where action was taken in 2009, according to the report.
The number of total complaints for the department has gone down, from 257 in 2007 to 165 in 2009. Of the 226 allegations contained in those complaints, about 50 percent were sustained and 24 percent were not sustained. Only 6 percent were exonerated.
After the initial FOIA request was mailed May 25, 2010, the Gazette tried several times to get the information before filing the lawsuit in November.
The State Police did not have an internal investigations unit until a 1995 state Supreme Court ruling forced them to.
In 1990, 17-year-old Billy Ray Casto, of Harts, Lincoln County, said Trooper Joe Parsons beat him with fists and a flashlight. A trooper in Parsons' detachment was assigned the case and soon found Casto's claims to be unsubstantiated.
Charleston lawyer Dan Hedges and Morgantown lawyer Franklin Cleckley went to the state Supreme Court on Casto's behalf.
The Supreme Court asked a criminal justice professor from Temple University, James J. Fyfe, to review the State Police's procedures when a trooper is accused of abuse. Fyfe recommended that outside groups and citizens participate in such investigations.
Supreme Court justices ignored that recommendation when they ruled on Casto's petition in 1995. In a unanimous, unsigned opinion, they ordered the State Police to ensure a thorough investigation of abuse allegations be conducted by a neutral party. The court refused to require a civilian review panel, saying the State Police superintendent would still make the ultimate decision.
Reach Gary Harki at gha...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.