Charleston mayor says city response to clergy over arrest is close

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A response by the City of Charleston to the Concerned Clergy Coalition in Charleston over request of changes following a controversial arrest is expected by Wednesday.

Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin told MetroNews on Monday that her administration is still gathering information and discussing a proper response over the requests that were announced during a public forum on November 5.

The clergy asked Goodwin, city council members and other elected officials to respond in no more than 10 days. The Charleston Police Department (CPD) allowed two officers to return to work from administrative leave after a use of force investigation was launched following an arrest of Freda Gilmore of Charleston on October 14.

Amy Goodwin

“As we continue to work with RESET, as we continue to work with the Charleston Police Department, we will be responding this week to the clergy with thoughtful responses,” Goodwin told MetroNews.

“I think that at the end of the day, the clergy and the police officers want exactly what this administration wants. We want an open, honest and thoughtful conversation to continue.”

VIEW: The clergy’s letter to Charleston officials

The Charleston clergy, which is a group of pastors from more than 20 churches, believed that CPD Patrolmen Carlie McCoy and Joshua Mena went over the line when arresting Gilmore, who her family says has special needs.

Mena is seen on dashcam video punching Gilmore several times on the ground after McCoy struggled to handcuff her.

Charleston Police Chief Opie Smith

CPD Police Chief Opie Smith said an internal investigation on the incident that found their actions fell under current policy. He said strikes are allowed in “situations where active resistance is occurring.”

At the forum, the clergy asked in the letter for the city to put McCoy and Mena back on suspension and have the Kanawha County Prosecutor’s Office and the FBI investigate the matter.

The requests also included there is a review of all current CPD policies, revision of some, training for officers on the proper use of force, mental health and cultural sensitivity, and a formation of a police review board comprised of citizens.

Goodwin said she has heard from several councilmembers and some have direct responses to the clergy and others still have questions.

She said more discussions may lead to changes to current policy.

“There are a lot of things that we need to address, there are some challenges that we have,” Goodwin said. “The good news is this administration is willing to listen and to learn but make no mistake, this administration also supports our police department.”

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