CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Matthew Leavitt, the Montgomery police officer suspended after allegedly beating a man in September, is being sued for allegedly beating another man then leaving him along the side of a highway in August.
This is at least the fourth lawsuit filed since October that accuses Leavitt of wrongdoing while on duty as a police officer. All have been filed by attorney Mike Clifford, a former Kanawha County prosecuting attorney.
According to the lawsuit filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court on Monday, Leavitt and a part-time police officer with the last name Brown stopped Gregory Lee Payne outside of his house in Montgomery on Aug. 12. Clifford said he did not know Brown's first name.
Payne was on the sidewalk when Leavitt and Brown ordered him to walk to their police car and place his hands on the hood of the car. Leavitt searched Payne and then handcuffed him, though he didn't "locate any illegal or prohibited items" on him, according to the lawsuit.
Payne asked if he was being arrested and Leavitt said he wasn't but that he was "going for a ride," the lawsuit states.
After driving around and stopping to smoke a cigarette, Leavitt and Brown took Payne to a wide spot in the road just before the Interstate 64 on-ramp near Cabin Creek.
There Leavitt pulled Payne out of the car, choked him and then hit him in the stomach and chest, Payne alleges in the suit. Brown stayed in the car during the assault, according to the suit. Leavitt then uncuffed Payne and left him by the side of the road.
Payne flagged down a vehicle and had the driver call for police assistance, the suit states.
West Virginia State Police Trooper Paul Green responded and took Payne to the Quincy detachment. He was taken by another trooper to his uncle's house in Montgomery.
Payne and his family members contacted Montgomery Police Chief Pete Lopez about the matter the next day, according to the suit.
Payne is the third black man to accuse Leavitt of assault.
Last week Montgomery Lt. J.D. Burrow said Leavitt and former Montgomery Patrolman Shawn Hutchinson threatened to arrest him when he tried to stop them from attacking Twan Reynolds.