CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia’s governor has ordered an investigation into a traffic stop in which he said a 16-year-old male suspect was seen on a state police dashcam video being beaten by two troopers.
“All this does is cast a dark shadow” on law enforcement, Gov. Jim Justice said Thursday.
Justice said in a news release he’s instructed State Police superintendent Col. Jan. Cahill to immediately investigate the case in Martinsburg “and to pursue criminal charges if warranted to prevent behavior like this from ever happening again.”
State Police spokesman Maj. Reginald Patterson said the two troopers have been suspended without pay amid an ongoing criminal and internal investigation.
Patterson said in a statement that the white teen was involved in a crash with a sheriff’s department cruiser on Nov. 19 before a pursuit ensued, his vehicle crashing again before he was apprehended. The spokesman said the troopers’ actions during the incident “came into question and led to the suspensions.”
He said the teen was treated at a hospital and released. The statement did not provide details of the traffic stop, the teen’s injuries and whether they were related to the arrest or the crashes. The names or races of the troopers and the teen’s name weren’t disclosed.
It wasn’t immediately known if the teen faces charges or whether he has an attorney.
Patterson says further statements won’t be issued until once the investigation is complete.
Justice said he learned of the matter Wednesday night.
“While I proudly support the brave efforts of our law enforcement agencies every day it must be perfectly clear that I will NOT tolerate this kind of behavior in any way, shape, form, or fashion,” the governor said.
American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia spokesman Tim Ward said police have a constitutional responsibility to avoid excessive force, no matter the circumstance.
“We are committed to getting to the bottom of this incident to determine if any of the teenager’s civil liberties were violated,” Ward said in a statement.
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