CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens says the city settled a lawsuit by a man who claimed he was subjected to a humiliating roadside strip-search because it was cheaper to settle than to fight the case.
The case was settled for $5,000, said Frank Crabtree, director of the ACLU of West Virginia.
"I wanted to fight this thing all the way through, however, for five grand?," Mullens said. "I thought, well shoot, let's just move on. ... Why use $40,000 in taxpayer dollars when we can settle for $5,000?"
Ivan Lee II alleged that on May 5, 2006, he was at the 7-Eleven on Second Avenue in South Charleston when he was questioned by police officers about a shooting.
After the questioning, he drove away and was followed and then stopped again by officer D.P. Pauley.
When asked why he was stopped, Pauley told Lee that he "had committed several traffic violations and that [Lee] did not use his turn signals, none of which are true," according to the lawsuit.
Pauley then had Lee get out of his vehicle so he could handcuff and search him.
The officer then searched Lee's car without a warrant and, according to Lee, without his consent.
Pauley then decided to do a more thorough search on Lee, "This time unzipping his pants and feeling him over his entire body, including putting his hand inside the Plaintiff's underwear and searching his genital area, all done by the side of the road in full view of passing traffic," according to the lawsuit.
The suit claimed the search was a violation of Lee's Fourth Amendment rights and was racial discrimination. Lee is black.
Originally the lawsuit was filed against Pauley, three unknown South Charleston officers, Mayor Frank Mullens, Chief Brad Rinehart and officer Bobby Yeager.
Mullens, Rinehart and Yeager were dropped from the suit, leaving Pauley as the lone defendant, said Terri Barr, ACLU legal director.
Mullens said he and Rinehart were not in office when the incident occurred in 2006. Pauley is still on the force, he said.
Reach Gary Harki at gha...@wvgazette.comor 304-348-5163.