CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The father of a West Liberty University cheerleader filed a complaint with the Charleston police chief, accusing officers of using excessive force when they responded to an incident at the Embassy Suites hotel earlier this month.
On March 4, Charles Haggerty wrote in an email to Chief Brent Webster that police "entered the hotel brandishing batons ... and wearing leather gloves prepared for an altercation."
"Their use of profanity, especially the 'F' word, the pointing of fingers in peoples chests and threatening people with being 'slammed' was absolutely uncalled for and took the situation to the level it resulted in."
Following the school's West Virginia Conference championship win on March 2, West Liberty Athletic Director James Watson, 66, his son Brian, 28, and two other West Liberty student-athletes were arrested after what one hotel employee described as an "out of control" celebration. Haggerty saw the situation unfold at the hotel.
Haggerty, who wrote that he's been employed with the Ohio Department of Corrections for 22 years, told Webster that police escalated the situation and exaggerated the incident to the media.
Webster told the Gazette on Tuesday that regardless of Haggerty's complaint, the incident was already being investigated. This is the only formal complaint his office has received.
A school official at West Liberty who asked to remain anonymous provided emails to the Gazette.
Webster, who only confirmed that the emails were sent, said he never would have identified Haggerty as a complainant because he would not want to discourage future reports.
"Our policy is pretty clear that whenever we use any kind of force, hands on, pepper spray -- outside of verbal command or simple escort -- that we do an internal investigation," Webster said. "[Haggerty] made a couple other allegations, which makes it also a conduct investigation."
On March 5, Charleston Police Capt. C.A. Peal, commander of the department's Professional Standards Division, responded to Haggerty, according to the emails.
Peal wrote that an investigation was underway into the matter. She also provided her phone number and said she'd like additional information from Haggerty.
"You also mentioned the availability of cellphone video of the incident. I would encourage you and any others that are in possession of any of this video to forward or email it to me as well," Peal wrote.
Webster said police have not received any cellphone video of the incident, but encouraged anyone who might have captured it to give it to police. Charleston Police Lt. Steve Cooper said the incident was not captured on hotel surveillance video.
Cooper said after the incident that hotel security called police for backup after "they had lost control of the situation."