A Jackson County man claims a Jackson County sheriff’s deputy, who now is running for sheriff, used excessive force against him, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court earlier this month.
In the lawsuit, Cody Ryan Fields also said the sheriff’s department has a policy of playing “lip service” to use of force policies but doesn’t enforce those policies.
Fields said that now-Chief Deputy Ross Mellinger struck Fields in the face with the butt end of a shotgun in September 2017, knocking out Fields’s teeth. Mellinger approached Fields in the garage of Fields’ home along Maplewood Heights Road in Ripley without a search warrant or other probable cause, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for Southern West Virginia.
Mellinger announced in June he was running for Jackson County sheriff in a story from the Jackson Herald. Mellinger has filed pre-candidacy papers with the Jackson County Clerk’s office, an employee at the office said Monday. The period to file candidacy begins in January 2020.
Mellinger is named as a defendant along with Jackson County Sheriff Tony Boggs, the Jackson County Commission and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.
Fields is suing for negligence, battery, outrageous conduct, excessive force, conspiracy and constitutional violations.
He is seeking unspecified compensation for medical expenses and other damages and suffering.
Fields claims he put his hands in the air and bent down to get on the ground when Mellinger asked him to, but Mellinger struck him with the gun, “causing facial injuries and knocking out several of the plaintiff’s teeth.”
A photo Fields said was immediately taken after the incident is included in the complaint. In the photo, a man is shown holding his mouth open and three teeth are gone and one tooth is broken.
In the complaint, Fields said Mellinger told him “his teeth needed to come out anyway.”
Fields said Mellinger filed “bogus” charges of obstructing and simple possession against him. A magistrate later dismissed the charges after witnesses repeatedly weren’t available, Fields said in the suit.
Fields is represented by Charleston attorney Michael Clifford.