The state has paid a man $150,000 to settle a lawsuit over two West Virginia State Police troopers in McDowell County allegedly using excessive force.
The federal lawsuit, and settlement, is the fourth that names Ralph Justus, who is no longer employed by State Police. The state has paid about $415,000 settling those cases.
In the lawsuit, Jamie Justice alleged Justus and Trooper Jarod Tupper pulled him over in September 2016, and he was beaten unconscious in the parking lot of the Welch detachment.
The suit, filed in September 2017, states that after Justice admitted that he had narcotics on him, the troopers handcuffed him and slammed his head against the side of the car. Tupper then kneed Justice in the ribs and choked him until he lost consciousness, according to the suit. When Justice regained consciousness he was in the detachment parking lot.
“There, while on the pavement and handcuffed, [Tupper and Justus] repeatedly kicked and stomped Plaintiff and punched him in the back of the head,” the suit states. “Plaintiff begged for them to stop. Trooper Tupper then straddled Plaintiff on the ground and again choked him until he lost consciousness.”
When Justice’s ex-wife and her cousin called the Welch detachment looking for him, according to the suit, an unnamed woman told them, “If he isn’t here, they are probably out beating the crap out of him.”
In an amended complaint, Justice also named troopers Chris Kane and Robert Daniel as supervisors who showed “a deliberate indifference, or tacit authorization, of such abhorrent practices.”
“I am pleased my client received justice and these Defendants were held accountable for their actions,” said Russell Williams, an attorney for Justice, in a statement.
The settlement is not an admission of guilt in the case.
“Mr. Ralph Justus is no longer employed by the West Virginia State Police,” said State Police spokesman Capt. Reggie Patterson. “The settlement was a compromise of a disputed claim and a measure to save the costs of expensive litigation. The settlement was not an admission of wrongdoing on the part of the Defendants.”
He said Tupper is still a state trooper.
Justus has also been accused in McDowell Circuit Court of sexually assaulting a woman while on the job in March 2017. Justus was placed on paid administrative leave two days after the woman said she was assaulted, and left the State Police earlier this year.
The woman sued Justus in April of this year. Justus has not yet been served in the case, an employee in the McDowell County Circuit Clerk’s office said.