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Suspect in road rage incident caught on video is retired deputy

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Police have a charged a Harrison County man with battery following a much-watched road rage incident Monday afternoon in Morgantown.

Police say William Sothen, 63, of Salem is charged with battery.

William Sothen, 63, of Salem, was the man on the motorcycle who got off the bike and took the woman who gotten out of the car beside him to the pavement.

Harrison County Sheriff Robert Matheny confirmed Sothen is a retired Harrison County deputy.

“I’ve seen the video, and it’s disturbing to me,” Matheny told the AJR News Network in Clarksburg. “If that is [Bill] Sothen in the video, those actions do not reflect the standards of the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department.”

Sothen retired shortly after Matheny took the oath-of-office in January, the Sheriff said.

The road rage began several minutes before outside of Morgantown, according to Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston.

“It was a mutual following, pulling up beside each other, yelling at each other,” Preston said. “It was a mutual ongoing road rage incident. It lasted several miles. It started on the interstate (I-68) and ended inside the city.”


The video taken at the scene lasted for approximately four minutes. The woman who took it was a guest on WAJR Radio’s Morgantown AM Wednesday. She said the woman got out of her car at the Van Voorhis Road intersection and then Sothen got off his bike.

“At first they were just talking. It was a heated confrontation from the beginning,” she said. “They were just talking and then they got physical. Honestly, it was scary.”

The altercation finally ended with an off-duty WVU police officer got out of his car and broke it up, Preston said.

The woman, a 21-year-old resident of Harrison County, won’t be charged, Preston said, adding both Sothen and the woman could have avoided the situation.

“Neither one of these parties should have been involved in the altercation to begin with. Either one of them could have walked away before it became physical. I would say they’re both wrong for that aspect of it,” Preston said.

The woman who shot the video said it was never the intention for it to go viral.

“It actually saddens me because the person who leaked the video, I’ve asked them to take it down, the girl in the video has asked them to take it down and he won’t. The girl in the video doesn’t want all of this attention from it because it is a serious matter,” she said.

The witness, who is 19, said she is glad she decided to hit the record button on her phone.

“I know people around my age–we literally video everything–so I did not think it was going to turn into what it did but I’m happy I captured it all on video so it can be used and police can figure out what happened,” she said.

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