CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State Police troopers obtained a warrant to search a Clay County man's trailer immediately after shooting and killing him in an alleged standoff in June, according to documents obtained by the Gazette.
Members of the State Police's Special Response Team helped U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency officers serve an unrelated search warrant at the home of Richard Dale Kohler in Maysel at 6 a.m. June 26. Federal agents said they had suspected Kohler of trading prescription pills for stolen goods.
At the trailer, Kohler allegedly refused to open his door and then pointed a rifle at troopers when they pried his door open. State Police then fired multiple shots, killing Kohler instantly.
Immediately after the shooting incident, State Police troopers drove to Clay County Magistrate Court to obtain their own search warrant for suspicion of receiving and transferring stolen goods.
The search warrant, granted by Clay County Magistrate Mitchel King, was marked and signed for 6 a.m., before the shooting incident. State Police Trooper B.E. Young wrote that he began investigating Kohler on April 24, according to the State Police's search warrant.
An informant told Young that Kohler had obtained four ceiling fans, five portable generators, a stainless steel sink and a decorative cat, all of which were allegedly reported stolen. Among those reported items, State Police only located and seized two generators, according to a property receipt filed with the search warrant. State Police also seized two four-wheelers, a dozen power and hand tools, several saws, one weed eater and one leaf blower, according to the receipt. State Police did not seize prescription drugs or weapons in the search.
Kohler's family has since questioned the circumstances surrounding the incident and retained a lawyer to look into the matter. They said Kohler, 65, had hip problems and could not get around without the help of a cane. It would have been difficult for him to stand and point a firearm, they said. State Police have maintained that the shooting was justified. No lawsuit has been filed.
State Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Baylous said it's not unusual for troopers to obtain a search warrant after entering a home on unrelated matters. He had not taken a look at this particular search warrant.
While the troopers were at the scene assisting with the federal search warrant they uncovered evidence of another alleged crime, Baylous said. Obtaining their own search warrant is required before collecting evidence in connection to the reportedly stolen goods, he said.
Reach Travis Crum at travis.c...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.