CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As two Montgomery police officers allegedly beat Twan Reynolds last September, their superior officer says, he was trying to stop them.
Montgomery Lt. J.D. Burrow says Patrolmen Matthew Leavitt and Shawn Hutchinson threatened to arrest him when he tried to stop them from attacking Reynolds.
He also says that race - the fact that Reynolds is black and his wife is white - played into the reported brutality of what happened.
Reynolds and his wife, Lauren, say Leavitt and Hutchinson hit Reynolds in the head with a blackjack, kicked him in the back and sprayed him in the eyes with pepper spray at close range following a traffic stop at the 7-Eleven in Montgomery on Sept. 26.
They are suing the two officers and the town.
They also say Leavitt repeatedly used a racial epithet against Reynolds. Lauren Reynolds accused Leavitt of licking her on the neck during an interrogation and saying, "Little whore, you like it like that."
"These guys were on their own. They felt like they could do what they want," Burrow said last week. "It seemed like they always had that little leeway to do what they wanted to, to me."
'Aren't you going to help?'
Burrow said he was on patrol when he saw Leavitt and Hutchinson driving to the 7-Eleven with lights flashing, according to a statement Burrow provided to the city of Montgomery. (The statement was obtained by the Gazette-Mail through the Reynoldses' lawyer, Mike Clifford.)
Reynolds followed the officers to the store, where they had Lauren and Twan Reynolds pulled over. Burrow says he overheard Lauren repeatedly tell Leavitt and Hutchinson that she hadn't been drinking.
When Leavitt and Hutchinson walked around to Twan Reynolds' side of the car, Burrow told them he would handle Reynolds, that the two men were neighbors, according to the statement made by Burrow.
"Leavitt told me to shut the [expletive] up. That no one talks to him like that," according to the statement.
Leavitt and Hutchinson pulled Twan Reynolds out of his car and tried to handcuff him. When Reynolds told the men he hadn't done anything that justified arrest, Leavitt pulled out a small blackjack and hit him in the face with it, according to Burrow's statement.
"I said, 'What are you doing?'" Burrow writes in the statement. "I reached in to pull Leavitt away from Twan. Leavitt then hit Twan in the face with his fist several times. I told Leavitt to stop. ... Leavitt asked me, 'Aren't you going to help?' ... [They] said they would arrest my ass if I didn't step back."
Leavitt reportedly sprayed Reynolds in the face with pepper spray before cuffing him and putting him in Burrow's police cruiser.
Back at city hall, Burrow said he again tried to intervene on the Reynolds-es' behalf.
"Then Hutchinson told me to 'get my [expletive] ass out of the room or he would arrest me,'" Burrow writes in the statement.