MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – A federal lawsuit, filed this week, claims officers with the Martinsburg Police Department used unreasonable and excessive force in the March 14, 2013 shooting death of a Virginia man.
The filing followed the court-ordered release of an autopsy report that showed Wayne Jones, 50, of Stephens City was shot 23 times total with 12 of those shots hitting his back and buttocks. His death was ruled a homicide, but a Berkeley County grand jury did not indict the officers involved in the shooting last October.
“They could not have heard the evidence,” said Sherman Lambert, the attorney for the Jones’ estate, of the grand jury’s decision on Friday’s MetroNews “Talkline.” The federal lawsuit he’s now filed on behalf of Jones’ brothers seeks $200 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
Martinsburg Police have said Jones was stopped last year while walking in the middle of South Queen Street. The officers said the man ran after a Taser was used on him and he was shot when he later stabbed an officer with a pocket knife. According to the autopsy report, Jones died from injuries to all of his vital organs.
Lambert argued many of the shots fired at Jones came when he was on the ground after attempting and failing to run from police.
“If he’s shot on the back six times, he’s down on his face on his stomach and he’s shot in the back,” said Lambert. “Where is the threat?” He disputed claims about the stabbing that, officers said, prompted the shooting.
“Even if the police officer was stabbed, which we don’t believe that happened, we don’t believe that. Even if he was, he had a scratch on his hand. We have a picture of the scratch. The police officers had gotten up and backed up after he’s (Jones) Tasered on the ground,” said Lambert. “There is no threat.”
Those with the Martinsburg Police Department have not commented on the ongoing legal action.
Five Martinsburg police officers are named in the federal lawsuit along with the City of Martinsburg. A jury trial is scheduled for Oct. 28.