WV Criminal Lawyer

Police Misconduct, Civil Rights Law

Update on WV Trooper Suicide

Note: I suppose that we will find out soon what he was being investigated for… One thing we do know is that all of this Trooper’s pending investigations and cases are going to come to a halt – if not disappear entirely. Defense attorneys will probably be able to access the documentation of the investigation that lead to his suicide, as it will be relevant to the admissibility of any evidence gathered. The suicide itself could also be admissible if any of his cases proceed to trial. It certainly would help the usually-unsuccessful “the police must have planted the drugs” argument. – John H. Bryan, West Virginia criminal defense attorney.

From today’s Charleston Gazette:

Police believe trooper death was suicide

By Gary Harki
Staff writer

A West Virginia State Police corporal was found dead Tuesday in an apparent suicide, shortly after his gun and badge were taken and he was notified that he was the subject of an internal investigation.

Cpl. V.J. Gall, 46, was found dead of a gunshot wound on the back porch of his home, said Joe Thornton, spokesman for the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.

Gall was relieved of duty at about 6 p.m. Tuesday and told he would be placed on administrative leave on Wednesday, Thornton said.

After Gall was notified of the internal investigation, “his service revolver and badge were taken,” Thornton said. “Not a whole lot occurred after that. Apparently he left.”
Troopers at the detachment were soon called out on an unrelated incident, Thornton said.

After responding to the call, troopers returned to their detachment and discovered that Gall was not there. They then went to Gall’s house.

“The door was unlocked, they knocked and there was no response,” Thornton said. The troopers then found Gall on the back porch.

Gall is the second State Police officer to commit an apparent suicide in the past year. Marlo Gonzales, a 13-year veteran of the force, shot himself in July with his service weapon inside his police cruiser while outside his father-in-law’s house, police said.

Gall was with the department for 10 years, one in Martinsburg and the rest in Romney. He was not married and had no children, Thornton said.

Thornton would not comment on the details of the investigation of Gall.

“It was obviously serious enough to relieve him of duty pending further discovery,” he said. “A criminal investigation could have resulted.”

That investigation continues, he said.

“Quite honestly it has turned into a dual investigation,” Thornton said. “He was found in an apparent suicide, but we have to investigate the body being discovered. Not only do we have to investigate the job-related situation but also his death.”

Troopers went to Gall’s home not only to check on him, but also to “retrieve information for the pending investigation,” Thornton said.

The troopers, all of whom worked with Gall, were not the officers investigating his alleged professional misconduct, Thornton said.
“When he was relieved of duty he told them they could come to his house and retrieve information,” Thornton said. The information would be turned over to different investigators, he said.

Gall was to officially be placed on administrative leave Wednesday, when State Police Col. David Lemmon signed off on the order, Thornton said.

State Police have been studying law enforcement suicides since Gonzales was found in July. He was the first trooper to commit suicide since 1999.

A report released late last year on Gonzales’ suicide describes a man in emotional turmoil, one who had stopped taking his depression medication and who had suicidal thoughts at least a year before his death. It also describes a man unhappy with his job with the State Police and with his marriage.

“The department is still dealing with that,” Thornton said of Gonzales’ suicide. “Then we have this situation.”

State Police announced in January that they were working to implement yearly behavioral health screenings for troopers, based on recommendations from a panel studying suicides among law enforcement.

February 14, 2008 - Posted by | Police

6 Comments »

  1. John Gall was a member of the Scottish Rite in Cumberland, Maryland,21502..and we as members were concerned of what happened to him! It seems awful strange that this did happened and none of the papers report its entirity. His duties at the Temple never showed him to be in any trouble or had any troubles on his mind, or related any to us! Sincerely Gary Logan

    Comment by Gary Logan | February 15, 2008 | Reply

  2. I AM JOHN GAII’S AUNT AND I NEVER KNEW HIM OTHER THEN A VERY HAPPY PERSON AND WOULD HELP ANYONE . HE WAS NEVER DEPRESSED AND BROUGHT JOY TO EVERYONE HE MET .
    I WANT TO THANK THE SCOTTISH RITE OF CUMBERLAND MARYLAND FOR THE SERVICE THEY DID IN HIS HONOR .
    HE WILL BE MISSED BY MANY PEOPLE .

    Comment by PATTY ROBINETTE | February 20, 2008 | Reply

  3. Did you know that the troopers who went to John Galls house had to go inside to get to the deck that was on the upper level of the house? It seems strange to me that they could just open the door and go inside without permission. Then they were there ten minutes after the suicide???????????. Seems a little fishey to me.

    Comment by Z Adams | February 20, 2008 | Reply

  4. Now I had heard about the Chuck Smith circumstances everywhere in the media, though I had never heard about this upsetting occurrence… However, I can assure you that with Joe Thornton and the other investigators looking into the state of affairs; only the truth will become manifest… I have suffered from depression myself, and I can honestly say no one in my circle of friends had any idea… Try looking into chat rooms that he would go in, ( that is if he was on the internet ) people have more openness to befriending strangers in conditions like this and openness to telling them their problems, as well as the depths of the problems.

    Comment by R. Lane | March 24, 2008 | Reply

  5. I am sure that all who are members of the high mountain
    orchards association ( Where cpl. Gall lived )are saddened
    by his death. I for one was glad to have a police officer
    living among us. If there are any updates as to the investigation please e -mail me at mobb67@hotmail.com

    Comment by mobb67 | July 1, 2008 | Reply

  6. I’m a disabled veteran and I was arrested by him in Hampshire Co. WV in 2005 for defending myself after being hit by a man in a pickup truck that Gall knew personally and then having a bat pulled on me. I used “yes sir, no sir” and I respect the law. He arrested me then elbowed me in the jaw while in cuffs, busted my lip. I had just had surgery at the VA Hospital and still had the stitches in my neck. I wasn’t resisting arrest, hadn’t been drinking etc.. I was found innocent and yes I wrote to the FBI and explained to them what had happened. Seems they found out who was right and who was wrong. He got off easy for sickening child pornography.

    Comment by Mike Oster | June 9, 2013 | Reply


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