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Troopers ran ATV off road, beat rider, lawsuit alleges

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Two State Police troopers ran an ATV off of a rural Raleigh County road and beat its driver while he was in custody, a lawsuit filed earlier this month alleges.

William Price filed a lawsuit in Kanawha County alleging that two troopers, one of whom is identified in the suit only as "Trooper Marsh," rammed the small trailer he was towing on his ATV and then forced him into a roadside ditch.

Price, according to the suit, was then taken to the Beckley State Police detachment, handcuffed to a bench and assaulted, the lawsuit states. He collapsed in the parking lot of the Southern Regional Jail the next morning and was hospitalized.

On July 22, 2010, Price was driving the ATV along Pemberton Road in Raleigh County when a State Police cruiser pulled up and slammed into the back of the trailer he was towing, the suit states.

The cruiser's lights and siren were not on, the lawsuit states. Marsh was allegedly driving the vehicle.

The cruiser pulled alongside Price, allowing the second trooper to hang out of the window and beat the man with "a club and/or foreign object of some sort," the lawsuit states.

The troopers never told Price to pull over, the suit states.

Marsh veered hard right, forcing Price into a ditch on the roadside. The troopers exited their vehicle, grabbed Price by his hair and shirt and began beating him, the suit states.

The troopers dragged him across the ground, handcuffed him, threw him in to the squad car, and threatened to "beat the hell out of him."

"These threats eventually proved to be sincere," Sean Cook, Price's lawyer, wrote in the lawsuit. The troopers never told Price why he was being arrested.

Price was taken to the Beckley detachment, where he was handcuffed to a bench. Marsh punched Price in the face at least once, the suit states. Price was interrogated, the suit states, but the officers never told him of his constitutional rights or informed him why he was being detained.

"At no point during the events described did Mr. Price take any action that an objectively reasonable officer could have construed as threatening, thus justifying the use of the physical force imposed upon him," Cook said in the suit.

Price eventually was taken to Southern Regional Jail in Beaver and released. It is not clear whether he was charged with any crime. He collapsed in the parking lot of the jail after his release and was taken to a hospital.

State Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Baylous said he had not been briefed on the lawsuit and did not believe the agency had been served. He said that the agency does not typically discuss open litigation.

Reach Zac Taylor at Zachary.Taylor@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.


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