CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Kanawha County prosecutor's office has asked for a third separate investigation into allegations that a student was beaten while unconscious during a training session at the State Police Academy.
Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Dan Holstein said he contacted the Legislature's Commission on Special Investigations, which agreed to investigate the April 5 incident.
"The first we became aware of it was when it was in the paper, but since that time we've been talking with a couple of different agencies about who would be the best to investigate it," Holstein said.
Princeton officer Christopher Winkler and his family say two academy trainers beat him during baton training. Winkler's mother Pamela McPeak said an instructor told her he saved her son's life when he pulled two other trainers off of Winkler after they continued to beat him while he was unconscious.
On Tuesday, Gov. Joe Manchin called for an independent panel to investigate what happened. Also Tuesday, State Police Superintendent Col. Timothy S. Pack issued a statement saying an initial investigation by State Police shows that Winkler didn't receive any direct hits to the head or neck. In the statement, Pack said the training was immediately halted when it became apparent that Winkler was in distress.
"We need to have someone independent, even of the executive branch of state government, come in," Holstein said. "From our perspective we need to have this looked at by someone independent so that the public has confidence in the results."
Gary Slater, director of the legislature's special investigation commission, said he couldn't comment on whether there was an investigation.
Slater and several other investigators with the commission are ex-state troopers. Slater has been with the commission for more than 17 years. In the early 1990s he worked on the case of former West Virginia State Police chemist Fred Zain, whose 10 years of false testimony wrongfully convicted countless defendants and cost the state millions of dollars in payments to those defendants.
On Thursday, State Police spokesman Michael Baylous reiterated that the State Police would accept an outside investigation into what happened.
"We're not opposed to whatever the Governor's office determines is appropriate in this situation," he said.
Holstein said the investigations' results would dictate what happens next, including whether someone would be prosecuted criminally.