UPDATE: Berkeley deputies heading back to work after controversial arrest

Berkeley County Sheriff Curtis Keller announced Friday two deputies involved in a controversial arrest last year would be back on the job Monday.

Keller tried to fire deputies Austin Ennis and Chris Merson in January after a November 2018 alleged excessive force arrest of a 16-year-old boy that came after a pursuit in Berkeley County. The arrest was recorded on a cruiser dashcam.

Ennis and Merson fought the attempt to fire them and two review boards sided with the deputies.

Keller could have appealed to the deputy sheriff’s civil service commission but instead Friday announced Ennis and Merson were coming back to work. Keller’s news release said disciplinary action had been imposed and accepted by all parties.

The Herald Mail reported Keller’s announcement came a day after the Berkeley County Council voted to hire an attorney to help Keller with the appeal. The paper also reported the discipline for deputies was believed to be 10 days without pay.

Former state police trooper Michael Kennedy, who was fired after the incident, appeared before a federal magistrate judge this week after being indicted by a grand jury. He’s charged with deprivation of rights. A trial date has been scheduled for June 4.

The video shows police trying to handcuff the suspect. At one point, Trooper Kennedy begins kicking the suspect. Eventually they subdue him, but then Kennedy approaches the suspect and repeatedly strikes him in the face. Later, after the suspect is on his feet, Kennedy tosses him to the ground.

The pursuit began after the driver rear-ended Merson’s cruiser on U.S. 11.

UPDATE 4/9/19 1:45PM
A judge has set a trial date for a former West Virginia state trooper accused of beating a teenage boy during an arrest.

The Journal of Martinsburg reports 29-year-old Michael Kennedy was arraigned Monday in federal court and trial was scheduled for June 4.

Kennedy was indicted last month by a federal grand jury on one count of deprivation of rights under color of law, language used to describe crimes committed by police officers while on duty. The indictment accuses Kennedy of using excessive force resulting in bodily injury during the Nov. 19 arrest.

A police dashcam video shows a West Virginia officer kicking and punching the handcuffed 16-year-old on the ground and kneeling on his shoulder after the teen allegedly rear-ended a deputy's car and fled.

UPDATE 3/20/19 4:25PM
A former West Virginia State Trooper has been indicted for allegedly using excessive force during an arrest.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, 29-year-old Michael Kennedy, of Morgantown, is charged with deprivation of rights under color of law.

Kennedy is accused of beating a teenage suspect during an arrest in Berkeley County last November, which led to the suspect being injured. Kennedy and Derek Walker were fired from the force after an investigation. Two Berkeley County Sheriff's Deputies were also fired in connection with the incident.

Kennedy faces up to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000.

UPDATE 1/18/19
The two West Virginia State Police troopers involved in the alleged beating of a 16-year-old have been fired.

Officials say Trooper First Class Michael Kennedy and Trooper First Class Derek Walker were fired Thursday after the completion of an internal investigation. The investigation was called for by Governor Jim Justice last year, who said dash camera footage showed the troopers beating a 16-year-old driver during a traffic stop.

Two Berkeley County sheriff's deputies have also been fired in relation to the incident.

UPDATE 1/17/19
A West Virginia sheriff says two deputies have been fired after an internal investigation of a traffic stop involving two state police troopers and a sheriff's deputy in which a teenage motorist was seen being beaten.

Berkeley County Sheriff Curtis Keller told The Journal on Wednesday that deputies C.S. Merson and Austin Ennis were terminated as the result of the investigation, but declined to go into details.

Allegations surfaced Nov. 29 when Gov. Jim Justice called for an investigation of two state police troopers following a traffic stop in which he said the troopers were seen on a dashcam video beating a 16-year-old male suspect.

The troopers were suspended without pay, and state police spokesman Reginal Patterson says the agency is still investigating.

Sheriff Keller says the fired deputies have a right to a hearing and one has been requested but not yet scheduled.

UDPATE 12/4/18
One of two West Virginia state troopers suspended after a teen suspect allegedly was beaten during a traffic stop last month faces an excessive-force lawsuit from an earlier incident.

Charles Town attorney Braun Hamstead filed the lawsuit earlier this year against Martinsburg Trooper 1st Class Derek Walker, who had arrested Hamstead's wife in 2016.

The lawsuit says Walker dragged Julie Ann Hamstead in a parking lot and slammed her to the ground before placing her in handcuffs.

Walker and Trooper 1st Class Michael Kennedy, who worked at the Martinsburg detachment, were suspended after dashcam video showed them allegedly beating a teen suspect after a pursuit on Nov. 19.

A federal judge in August ruled Walker was acting in his official capacity, was entitled to qualified immunity and removed both him and the state police from the lawsuit.

The judge has not ruled on an amended complaint filed in September that attempted to add Walker and state police back into the lawsuit.

A state police spokesman did not immediately comment on the lawsuit Monday.

Meanwhile, Berkeley County sheriff's deputy has been suspended without pay over the traffic stop.

Sheriff Curtis Keller said Deputy Austin Ennis was present during the incident. He was suspended on Friday.

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A spokesman for West Virginia State Police has released information about two suspended troopers and allegations of the officers beating a teenager.

Governor Jim Justice released a statement Thursday, sternly calling for an investigation, and criminal charges if warranted. He said dashcam video shows two troopers from the Martisburg detachment beating a 16-year-old suspect after a pursuit.

Not long after Justice's statement was released, WVSP Chief of Staff Services Major Reggie Patterson released more details. He says the troopers were "immediately" placed on administrative leave without pay.

The alleged incident happened Monday, Nov. 19 in Martinsburg. Patterson says the suspect was involved in a crash with a sheriff's department cruiser. That led to a pursuit, he says, and the suspect ended up crashing.

In his statement, Patterson refers to the teenager as the "suspect/victim." He continued, "The suspect/victim was found to be a 16 year old, white male, which was transported to a hospital and subsequently released."

He says it was the "apprehension process" where the troopers' actions came into question, leading to the suspensions.

"The West Virginia State Police has initiated a criminal and internal investigation, upon reviewing an in-car camera video," Patterson said.

In Gov. Justice's statement, he said dashcam video shows the troopers beating the teenager. "While I proudly support the brave efforts of our law enforcement agencies every day it must be perfectly clear that I will NOT tolerate this kind of behavior in any way, shape, form, or fashion. I have instructed Col. Cahill to begin an investigation immediately and to pursue criminal charges if warranted to prevent behavior like this from ever happening again.”

Patterson continued to say that WVSP cannot make any additional statements until a thorough investigation is completed. In the meantime, they are also not releasing the name of the victim because he is a minor.

Two West Virginia State Police troopers are currently suspended without pay. Governor Jim Justice released a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying a 16-year-old was allegedly beaten by the officers.

The alleged incident happened in Martinsburg, involving troopers from the Martinsburg detachment of WVSP.

“I was notified last night of an incident in Martinsburg, WV involving two troopers from the Martinsburg Detachment and a 16-year-old male suspect," the press release from the governor states. "The suspect was stopped by troopers after a pursuit and dashcam video taken at the scene shows the suspect being beaten by the two troopers. While I proudly support the brave efforts of our law enforcement agencies every day it must be perfectly clear that I will NOT tolerate this kind of behavior in any way, shape, form, or fashion. I have instructed Col. Cahill to begin an investigation immediately and to pursue criminal charges if warranted to prevent behavior like this from ever happening again.”

The governor's press release states WVSP will be sending out a separate release with additional details.

“We have so many brave and respected men and women of law enforcement across West Virginia; all this does is cast a dark shadow on them. If this is the case, it will NOT be tolerated.”