6:00: Morning News

Lawsuit accuses one of suspended W.Va. troopers of 2016 traffic stop assault

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Charles Town attorney said he was not surprised to learn of assault allegations against West Virginia State Police Trooper First Class Derek Walker.

Attorney Braun Hamstead claims in a lawsuit filed earlier this year that Walker assaulted and abused his wife when the trooper responded to a fender-bender.

Now Walker and Trooper First Class Michael Kennedy have been suspended without pay for a separate incident — the alleged beating of a 16-year-old that was captured on dashcam video.

“My reaction was finally someone captured him on video,” Hamstead said.

“When those cars come up there with their lights on, those videos are running. They are preserving the evidence that’s being captured.”

Walker is currently implicated in a Nov. 19 incident. Gov. Jim Justice has implicated the two troopers in the beating of the 16-year-old, and three investigations are underway.

That’s not the first accusation against the trooper.

Hamstead filed a lawsuit in May of 2018 following an April 25, 2016 incident along Fairfax Boulevard in Charles Town involving his wife, Julie.

According to the lawsuit, Julie was talking to Jefferson Asphalt and WV Department of Highways workers near the front of a parking lot about a sidewalk project she disputed.

Her Honda Pilot was sitting in the parking lot when a worker backed his truck up and struck the left front driver’s door of her vehicle.

Multiple State Police troopers responded, including Trooper First Class Derek Walker, the suit alleges.

That’s when matter spiraled out of hand, the Hamsteads allege.

Paragraph 45 of the lawsuit is particularly detailed:

“In order to better hear what was being said and exercise her right to defend herself against false charges by the conspiring defendants, Plaintiff turned toward the group of WVDOH and Jefferson Contracting employees who had moved to the center of the parking lot, whereupon Trooper Walker grabbed Plaintiff’s right arm, dragged her backward several feet, then spun her around and violently pulled her left arm behind her body, lifted her by her left bent arm, pushed her forward across the parking lot and then smashed the right side of her face into (a) work truck breaking her eyeglasses. Walker then slammed Plaintiff face down onto the ground, bloodying her knees, tearing open her leggings on the gravel. Walker then placed her in handcuffs behind her back as she lay helpless on the ground, face down.”

The suit continues by alleging Trooper Walker placed Julie Hamstead in the back of a cruiser and turned up “blaring hard rock music” in the car with the windows closed.

“At all times relevant Trooper Walker knew that Plaintiff was unarmed, and he was at no time in fear of his safety or the safety of others, yet he used unnecessary and excessive force to arrest Plaintiff on false charges,” according to the lawsuit.

Hamstead filed suit not only against the troopers but also against an asphalt company, the Department of Highways, the Town of Ranson and those who gave his wife medical treatment.

The initial lawsuit was filed in Jefferson Circuit Court, then moved to federal court. In August, Trooper Walker was dismissed from the case.

U.S. District Judge Gina Groh agreed that Hamstead had not sufficiently backed up the allegations with facts.

In an allegation of battery, for example, Groh concluded not enough evidence had been provided.

“Although the plaintiff asserts Trooper Walker used excessive force, the amended complaint does not provide any facts to suggest that Trooper Walker’s actions amounted to excessive force,” the judge wrote.

Hamstead filed a second amended complaint in September. The State Police and other parties are also fighting that one, saying it’s a desperation filing that came too late.

“Mrs. Hamstead’s motion to amend should be denied because she presents no valid reason for the belated motion,” wrote lawyers for the State Police.

Hamstead said during the Monday interview Julie is still hurt from the alleged incident both physically and emotionally.

“As a result of the beating and her fear of Trooper Walker, she fled the state of West Virginia,” Braun Hamstead told MetroNews affiliate WEPM.

“She has permanent damage to her left arm and she received bruises throughout her body and back and neck injury. She would not come back to the state of West Virginia.”

Furthermore, Hamstead said during the case continues to have a lasting impact on his personal and professional life.

“I had left with her but then returned with her for about a year to renew and sustain my law practice here. So we’re actually now physically separated because of this. Our 14 year-old is with her and I’m here maintaining the law practice.”

Hamstead claims to have presented the lawsuit in the form of a letter to State Police Superintendent Jan Cahill.

“We heard absolute dead silence, nothing. There was never any follow-up (or) internal investigation.”

In a recent interview, Cahill indicated he was unaware of a lawsuit regarding the incident.


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