PARKERSBURG -Officials are finalizing a settlement, stemming from a 2010 lawsuit filed by a Belpre man alleging abuse by Parkersburg police.
Mayor Bob Newell and City Attorney Joe Santer confirmed there is a proposed $70,000 settlement from the city for Terry Ratliff.
Filed in June 2010 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia by Ratliff's attorney, Gary Smith of Woodsfield, Ohio, the suit alleges Ratliff was subject to excessive force and denied his constitutional and civil rights, stemming from a 2008 incident on Seventh Street.
In the suit, Ratliff alleges he was placed under arrest for public intoxication after Officer Nathan Deuley noticed him urinating in a parking lot. The suit alleges during the arrest a struggle ensued, and Ratliff was the victim of unnecessary or unreasonable force. The suit also maintains Ratliff, still in handcuffs, was again assaulted in the parking lot of the police station by several officers.
According to the suit, Ratliff was taken to Camden Clark Medical Center for treatment. While in the emergency room Ratliff was handcuffed and shackled to his bed and was again assaulted by officers, the suit alleges.
The suit claims hospital personnel diagnosed Ratliff with "facial trauma, swelling and pain around the eyes, nose and face, and multiple nasal bone fractures."
The suit names six Parkersburg police officers - Charles Wolfe, Ben Ward, Michael Randall, William Wells, Matt Eichhorn and Deuley - and the city as defendants.
Deuley and Eichhorn were also named as defendants in a 2010 suit filed by Parkersburg resident Timothy Michael Mazza, who alleges he was unlawfully arrested, detained and brutalized by police officers.
Deuley has been placed on paid leave since May 7, pending an investigation. City officials have declined to comment, citing personnel matters.
In the suit filed by Ratliff, Deuley is represented by David Nelson. The city and the other five officers are represented by Nicole Belcher, an attorney with Bailey and Wyant.
Santer said the city's insurance company hired Bailey and Wyant to defend the city.
"All the plaintiffs recognize and understand the city is in fact denying any responsibility of wrongdoing, and that would include all the defendants," Santer said.
Newell said the proposed settlement was at the discretion of the city's insurance company. Santer said all parties involved still have to agree to the proposal, which may take a week to 10 days.
Belcher was out of the office, according to a staffer at her office.
Newell said the city admits no fault in the settlement.
"We had nothing in the negotiations," Newell said last week. "As I said before, it is their prerogative. They weigh how much it will cost to settle as opposed to fight it.
Last month, the city reached a settlement agreement with Craig Nelson in a 2009 lawsuit in which Nelson claimed injuries and accused officers of shooting his dog without provocation. The suit was settled for $2,500 with the city admitting no wrongdoing.