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Lawsuit filed against Ritchie County officer

PENNSBORO — Two lawsuits were filed on March 25 against the city of Pennsboro and a police officer for allegedly conducting unlawful arrests and physical abuse.

Three Ritchie County residents, Thomas F. Smith, Ernest L. Owens and Anita M. Owens accuse Ritchie County Police officer R.T. Davis of causing bodily harm, using excessive force before, during and after the arrest and carrying out unlawful arrests and imprisonment, the suit said.

According to the suit filed by Smith, Smith was driving in the Pennsboro area on March 29, 2018. Davis was allegedly following Smith when Smith pulled over and asked why he was being followed, the suit said.

Davis allegedly did not answer the question and tightly and painfully handcuffed Smith against the cruiser, the suit said.

Before being placed in the cruiser, Smith informed Davis that he had a prosthetic leg and would be injured if forced into the back of the cruiser, the suit said.

Davis continued to place Smith in the back of the cruiser and transported him to the Ritchie County Magistrate Court and charged him with impeding training, obstructing an officer and disorderly conduct, the suit said.

After Davis heard the charges were dropped on Smith, he had Smith arrested again March 25, 2019, the suit said.

According to the Owens lawsuit, Ernest Owens was driving on Route 74 in Ritchie County on March 26, 2019.

Owens lawfully passed another vehicle and something flew out of the bed of the truck without Owens realizing what happened, the suit said. The item struck another vehicle, the suit said.

Owens and the other motorist pulled into a nearby Save-A-Lot parking lot and Davis also pulled into investigate, the suit said.

Owens’ wife, Anita, also came on the scene to assist, the suit said.

Davis allegedly became enraged after Owens asked questions about the situation and proceeded to assault the Owens’, the suit said.

Davis allegedly slammed Owens to the ground causing permanent injuries, the suit said. Anita also was injured by Davis, according to the suit.

The Owenses were then transported to the Ritchie County Magistrate Court and were charged with obstructing an officer and disorderly conduct, the suit said.

At a later date, Ernest also was charged with littering, but the charges were dropped, the suit said.

Both suits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. Attorney George Cosenza is representing the Owenses and Smith.

The Owenses and Smith are seeking compensatory, punitive damages and attorney costs and fees, the suits said.

The Pennsboro Police Department could not be reached for comment and calls to the Mayor of Pennsboro were not immediately returned.

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