Over the past decade public awareness of police misconduct has grown.
High profile incidents have become regular news stories and have garnered attention on social media. These are stories of the police killing unarmed citizens, and all too often they are Black or other people of color. But there are countless stories involving other forms of
misconduct and violence. These have led to public demonstrations and civil unrest, as well as an erosion of trust between communities, particularly marginalized communities and law enforcement.
West Virginia has not been spared these incidents. In 2013 in Berkeley County, a Black man was shot 22 times.1 In 2018, a 16-year-old was severely beaten by State Police outside Martinsburg. Police in Westover are facing a federal lawsuit for beating a Black man in 2019. Also in 2019, Charleston Police came under fire for officers repeatedly punching a restrained woman.
These are only a sample of incidents in West Virginia. A two-part exposé by the Charleston Gazette Mail revealed a pattern of allegations of misconduct not being prosecuted but eventually leading to civil suits and settlements.
This report seeks to quantify and contextualize how often police violence occurs in West Virginia so that policies may be established and enforced that reduce the use of violence against communities. However, in compiling this report one thing is clear: law enforcement agencies in West Virginia are not taking transparency and accountability serioulsy. Although they are required by law to do so, only 55 percent of the state's law enforcement agencies responded to records requests used to compile this report. This is unacceptable.
Read the report in its entirety below.