A retired West Virginia State Police trooper claims in a lawsuit that he was beaten up two years ago by three Alderson police officers.
John E. Bumgarner, a retired trooper, filed the lawsuit against the town of Alderson on July 1 in federal court in Beckley. He claims the town, through its police department, encourages the use of undocumented excessive force.
In addition to the town, the former trooper is also suing officers Jordan Clendenin, Daniel Hinkley Jr., and Alderson’s chief of police Jeremy Bennett.
Clendenin now works for the town of Ronceverte, according to Bennett. Hinkley is a deputy with the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Office that worked part time in Alderson in 2014.
Bennett said Friday he hadn’t yet seen a copy of the lawsuit but had been expecting it.
“When you do this job you’re going to get sued sooner or later. I feel like my officers did nothing wrong,” Bennett said. “There’s actually video of the incident.”
Bumgarner is represented by Monroe County lawyer John Bryan and Barry Bruce of Lewisburg.
According to the complaint, Bumgarner was waiting in traffic for about 10 or 15 minutes at an intersection in Alderson on July 4, 2014. A car in front of him prevented him from seeing the cause of the hold up so he tapped the horn of his truck, the complaint states.
Clendenin, who was directing traffic after the town’s holiday parade, allegedly became irate over Bumgarner blowing the horn, walked over to him and warned if he did it again, he would issue him a citation.
“Boy, I didn’t know tapping your horn was against the law,” Bumgarner said. His lawsuit states he didn’t mean any disrespect.
Clendenin allegedly replied that “If you call me ‘boy’ one more time, I will yank you out of your truck and show you who the boy is,” the lawsuit states.
Bumgarner says he was ordered to pull over to the side of the road. The driver of the vehicle directly behind him testified that Clendenin was being rude, using foul language and “appeared to be losing control,” according to the complaint.
Hinkley and Bennett arrived when Clendenin called for backup.
The lawsuit claims that when Clendenin tried to pull Bumgarner out of his truck Bumgarner noticed his gun, which was in the pocket of his side door, was close to falling out onto the ground. He claims before he reached for his gun he told the officers about it and that he had a concealed carry permit.
When he picked the gun up, Bumgarner claims he was holding it by the barrel, pointed down. He raised it high up in the air so that the officers could see he meant no harm, his lawsuit states.
Despite the precaution he says he took, Bumgarner claims he was head-butted by Hinkley and dragged out of his vehicle. The lawsuit alleges Hinkley struck Bumgarner in the face with his fist and that all three officers threw him to the ground.
Bumgarner says he suffered multiple injuries and is still dealing with problems from an eye injury he received during the alleged incident.
Bumgarner was arrested and charged with brandishing a deadly weapon and resisting arrest. He was found guilty of both charges by an Alderson judge.
After appealing the convictions to Greenbrier County Circuit Court, Bumgarner was found not guilty of the brandishing charge but was again found guilty of resisting arrest.
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