Federal suit alleges excessive force

PARKERSBURG – Two police officers and the City of Parkersburg were named as defendants in a federal lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, alleging the use of excessive force during a 2012 arrest.

Albert Richards of Parkersburg alleges he was assaulted and his civil rights were violated by patrolmen B.J. Depue and R.T. Davis during an arrest at Richards’ home on May 23, 2012. According to the suit, his rights under the fourth, fifth and 14th amendments were violated.

Richards is represented by attorneys Bill Merriman and Richard D. Smith Jr.

According to the suit, on May 23. 2012 the patrolmen responded to a call about a possible domestic disturbance at 1022 36th St. When the officers arrived Richards was working in his personal garage.

After police confronted Richards and asked him to stand up he tried to wipe oil, gasoline and carburetor cleaner from his hands, the suit says. According to the suit Richards was sprayed by one of the officers with pepper spray.

“The plaintiff immediately wiped his eyes with his hands that at this point had not only oil, gasoline and carburetor cleaner on them, but also the spray causing him to become blind,” the suit alleges.

As he was being led to the police cruiser, Richards lost his balance and was thrown to the ground by one of the officers who began to hit him, the suit says.

“While one or both of the officers were on Richards back, the physical assaulting at the hands of the officers continued hitting, punching, beating or otherwise abusing Richards body, and by using unnecessary or unreasonable or excessive force,” the suit states. “The physical assault temporarily stopped only because Richards’ son exited the family home and began witnessing the assault of his father.”

It was also alleged he was thrown against the door, causing Richards to hit the roof of the cruiser. It also states Depue hit Richards numerous times with a closed fist for breaking his Oakley sunglasses.

At the Camden Clark Medical Center Emergency Room, Richards was diagnosed with a closed head injury, chemical conjunctivitis, subdural hematoma, fracture, strain, sprain, contusions, lacerations and abrasions, the suit states.

It is alleged the officers failed to seek medical care in a timely manner and they were aware Richards had been harmed and there was a substantial risk of serious harm.

“The violation of the plaintiff’s constitutional and civil rights as described was the direct result of the City of Parkersburg’s customs, practices or policies in that the defendant officers are inadequately or improperly trained and inadequately or improperly supervised,” the suit states. “In failing to adequately train or supervise their officers to ensure they adhere to proper police procedure, the City of Parkersburg acted with deliberate indifference toward the constitutional rights of Richards and other citizens.”

In closing, the suit asks for judgment against the defendants for compensatory damages in an amount to be determined at trial and for damages which he may be entitled for physical and mental pain and suffering.