In September 2006, Angela Denise Bunting of Danville claimed four troopers beat her and sprayed her genitals with pepper spray. Troopers identified by the last names Simmons, Jones and Frye, along with an unnamed trooper, were involved, according to Bunting's lawsuit.
On March 15, 2008, Troopers Wellman, Simmons and Williams and one identified as "John Doe" allegedly beat Donald Bradley, according to his lawsuit.
On March 22, 2008, William Ball alleged that Troopers Wellman, Simmons, Moore and a "John Doe" beat him after a traffic stop.
In February of this year, Danville resident Johnny Hilbert filed a lawsuit alleging that he was beaten and harassed by Troopers Frye, Williams and Wellman.
Logan County prosecutor John Bennett said Friday that he is not aware of any criminal investigation into the most recent alleged beating. Bennett, who was not in office at the time, said he had no information on any investigations in the 2006 or 2008 allegations.
It depends on the investigator as to whether there is an honest and sincere effort when conducting an internal investigation, according to the source familiar with internal investigations. And then it depends on the administration in power as to whether there is an honest effort to handle the investigation from internal affairs.
"I've never known the department to say not to investigate that, to turn the other cheek," the source said. "They're not that blatant."
The source said it's not that the State Police allows troopers to hurt, rape and otherwise abuse their authority but that sometimes allegations of such aren't closely examined.
"Police are a product of society, and sometimes you get police that do bad things," the source said. "Police are no different, . . . and you just hope they get weeded out."
When asked if the problem officers are weeded out, or even watched more closely, the source said, "probably not."
"I think they go into cover mode more, because it makes them look bad and they've got to explain it," the source said. "I don't think they allow it, but maybe they don't act on it as hard as they should."
Baylous said the department takes issue with these comments.
"We don't find the information provided as credible," he said. "We ask that person to come forward and lay this out on the table. . . . We take every complaint seriously. I think the numbers speak for themselves."
According to a six-page public report produced by the professional standards section in 2009, 13 troopers were dismissed that year based on sustained allegations, up from 3 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 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.
The State Police created several more detailed statistical reports containing information regarding the number of complaints or use-of-force incidents for each employee. The department denied a request by the Gazette-Mail for copies of the reports with names redacted.
The source with knowledge of State Police internal investigations says that, although it is never by direct action by State Police officers, the system in place allows police to cover up for other police.
"You always hear about the thin blue line. The thin blue line exists," the source said. "I think, to me, they're going to cover for police officers when they can cover for them. . . . You have the brotherhood of police officers, and then you don't want your department looking bad."
'Confidential by rule'
The office of Capt. Gordon Ingold is sparsely decorated, with a seat for visitors that is far away from his large desk.
"There are times that I wish I could release information about something. The facts are incorrect or there are circumstances [the public] is unaware of," Ingold said Thursday, "but again, I don't believe that I have the privilege, based on the rule."
Legislative rule 81-10-6.2, part of the section that governs the State Police, says documents related to internal investigations, "shall not be released . . . except by the direction of the Superintendent or by order of a court with competent jurisdiction."
It is because of this specific rule that Ingold and the State Police administration say they can't release any information from internal investigations.
"The complaint, the nature of the complaint, any administrative discipline, all of that would be considered confidential by the rule and, as such, could not be information we would release," he said. "We believe the rule prohibits telling anything, and we don't want to be in violation of the rule."
Attempts to discuss these matters with Col. Timothy S. Pack, head of the State Police, have been unsuccessful. Pack repeatedly has refused requests for interviews and has not spoken to any Gazette-Mail reporters since becoming colonel.
"He appointed me as the West Virginia State Police spokesman," Baylous said, "and, as he does with all his appointments, he has confidence and faith in my abilities to answer all inquiries from the media."
Coming Monday: No charges for trooper accused of rape, prosecutor says.
Reach Gary Harki at gha...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.