WV Civil Rights Lawyer

Police Misconduct, Civil Rights Law

More Police Misconduct in Montgomery, WV

It was only a week or so ago that I posted about some lawsuits that were filed against the Montgomery, West Virginia, police department. Now more lawsuits have been filed, and the FBI has opened an investigation.

According to an article in the Charleston Gazette this morning, there are three incidents being litigated and investigated, and they all surround Montgomery police officer Matthew Leavitt. Leavitt was suspended after being accused of beating Twan Reynolds on September 26.

According to the article:

Twan Reynolds and his wife, Lauren, accuse Patrolman Leavitt and Patrolman Shawn Hutchinson and of repeatedly hitting Twan Reynolds over the head with a blackjack, kicking him in the back and spraying his eyes with Mace at close range.

They filed a lawsuit in Kanawha County Circuit Court last week.

They also say Leavitt repeatedly used a racial epithet against Twan Reynolds, who is black, and Lauren Reynolds accused Leavitt of licking her on the neck during an interrogation and saying, “Little whore, you like it like that.”

Leavitt and other officers are accused of other acts of violence, and of saying things like this:

“He threatened to ‘blow my fat black ass away,'” White said. “He said, ‘Bitch, I own you. I own the streets of Montgomery.'”

“When he handcuffs me, he throws me against the car and told me to ‘Quit screaming like a little bitch.'”

“I said they were going to jail for neglecting me,” Carr said. “Then Leavitt said, ‘You can’t prove shit,’ and hit me in the head with the nightstick.”

And then there were things that he said to the newspaper:

“She is a constant nuisance,” Leavitt said, adding that the girl had been in juvenile detention in the past.

“Even if I was the biggest racist on earth, which I am not, that would seal my coffin as a police officer,” Leavitt said. “I would not be stupid enough to utter that word while wearing a badge. … That is just stupidity. But again, that is the first allegation I face if a suspect is black.

“I can’t help the fact that I was born a white man. I don’t care that I was born a white man. It just so happens that the majority of the criminals in Montgomery, due to demographics, are African-American. When I worked in Smithers, most were white.”

For what it’s worth, juvenile proceedings are supposed to be sealed and confidential, and it’s completely inappropriate for a police officer to make statements to a newspaper regarding someone’s juvenile record or proceedings. But I guess that pales in comparison to this guy’s arrogance, both in his statements to the victims while he was beating them up, and his bigoted statements to the newspaper.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney

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October 7, 2008 - Posted by | Corruption, Police, Police Misconduct

4 Comments »

  1. Juvenile records are supposed to be sealed. The police officer and the reporter should both be aware of that law. The managing editor, without doubt, will be reviewing future statements more closely as a result of this error. All journalists are aware of the Code of Professional Journalism at Society of Professional Journalist web site at http://www.spj.org/aboutspj.asp There has to be a balance somewhere between the public’s right to know and the rights of the individual. The First Amendment is fundamental, but good ethics and the Code of Professional Journalism are inherent limitations among professionals. I believe your blog is read and will have an affect on how similiar issues are disclosed in the future, you peform a valuable public service by informing the public.

    Yours in Defense of All Fellow Human Beings,
    Glen R. Graham, Tulsa Defense Attorney

    Comment by Glen R. Graham | October 9, 2008 | Reply

  2. Hey John,

    This is good stuff up here; I shot you over an email with a summary of a case I have out here in VA. I realize you may not venture out to VA, but I appreciate any insight into the fact-set I present.

    Keep up the great work,
    -TIm

    Comment by Tim Payne | February 27, 2009 | Reply

  3. I know this case isn’t as bad as that but it shows the level of corruption in the legal system. In Ritchie county wv a man was called by a drug dealer and asked to pick up a bag of pot for her. The man refused, she called again, the man refused again. Then she rode a illegal atv on st. rt. 47 without even a drivers license, to the mans house. I was there when they came down and they were very agressive about him doing this for them. The man left and came back and made an excuse to not do it. The drug dealer called the next day every min or so. The man agreed to do it to get the drug dealer off his back about it. He went to one drug dealer and got the drugs and delivered them to the other drug dealer and he got arrested for delivery of a controled substance.

    As it turns out the first drug dealer got busted and said she would give the state others to get out of trouble. Now the first drug dealer got nothing, the second drug dealer got probation, and the man who delivered the drugs, got 2 months in jail as an evaluation before sentancing.

    His lawyer told him to take a deal that would label him a felon and he would get probation, but This is a clear case of entrapment and he wanted to fight it and got shafted by everyone.

    The state police got on the stand and lied, said that he seen the second drug dealer and the man together, but it wasn’t the second drug dealer that sold the drugs, when the second drug dealer tried to testify to that fact the prosecuting attorney threatened him with 15 years in prison.

    Theres alot more to this case including the defense attoney never asked any questions and never followed any of the leads the man gave him, and at one point told the man that “I’m sorry I have to live here.” So what does that tell you all.

    Comment by Got Shafted | March 25, 2009 | Reply

  4. If you want to get up to speed on police misconduct and judicial misconduct we at The CalPatty Press have published over a half-million words on the matter. Thank god there is HONEST defense counsel out there like John, in case you need a good lawyer! Only a handful of other trial attorneys can be trusted in the mountain state of W. Va.

    Comment by calpattypress | November 7, 2009 | Reply


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