SOUTH CHARLESTON — The West Virginia State Police has announced that the trial of three Logan County troopers accused of using excessive force has been ended with a decision. A Kanawha County jury found that the troopers did not use excessive force in the course of an arrest.
According to WVSP Lieutenant Michael Baylous, the trial of James C. Justice versus West Virginia State Police, Trooper First Class McClung, Trooper First Class Wellman and Senior Trooper Boggs began on Feb. 10 in the Circuit Court of Kanawha County.
Justice, of Delbarton, alleged that the Troopers subjected him to excessive force in the course of his arrest for carrying a concealed weapon, public intoxication, disorderly conduct and obstruction in Logan County in the early morning hours on March 15, 2009.
Justice claimed that on that night, he was unlawfully arrested by the three troopers outside of Tops Bar while waiting on a ride. Justice claims the troopers used excessive force while handcuffing and transporting him causing injuries to his wrists, hands and arms. He also alleged that McClung and Boggs escorted him into the police detachment facility and pushed him “to the ground and onto his face on at least three occasions, causing injuries.” He claimed the troopers continued to swear and berate him, and that one trooper threatened Mr. Justice not to report the incident. Justice claimed in the suit that as result of the incident, he suffered multiple lacerations and abrasions, and was impacted in his ability and willingness to even travel into or through Logan County and that he rarely left his house due to fear of being encountered by the troopers and/or officers. He was seeking compensatory damages.
Baylous reported that after hearing all of the evidence and being instructed on the law by The Honorable Jennifer F. Bailey, the jury returned a verdict after less than 50 minutes of deliberation on Feb. 12 declaring that the Troopers did not use excessive force when arresting, transporting or processing Mr. Justice.
“We are very gratified with the verdict of these citizens of Kanawha County declaring that these Troopers did absolutely nothing wrong,” Robert Ryan of the law firm of Steptoe and Johnson PLLC of Charleston, who represented the Troopers and WVSP at trial, said after the verdict, “These men – and the rest of the men and women of the West Virginia State Police – go to work every day under dangerous conditions to protect us and when they are accused of things such as this, they deserve to be exonerated in public by a jury of the citizens of West Virginia. We thank the jury and the Court for their service.”
Editor’s Note — A report by The West Virginia Record was used in compiling this article.