Martinsburg, WV – The Berkeley County Prosecutor’s Office released video of an alleged excessive force incident involving two West Virginia state troopers and a 16-year-old boy (video below).
The incident began after a vehicle driven by the 16 year old rear-ended Berkeley County Sheriff’s Deputy C.S. Merson, who was responding to a call in Spring Mill, Herald-Mail Media reported.
The teenager fled after he struck the deputy’s vehicle, and Deputy Merson pursued him.
The video, which was taken from a Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office vehicle, showed began with the deputy pursuing the car that had hit him.
Then the 16-year-old boy lost control of his vehicle and wrecked, striking a utility pole in the process, the video showed.
In the video, Deputy Merson immediately approached the vehicle and used his retractable baton to smash out the driver’s window to rescue the suspect.
Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Catie Wilkes-Delligatti said the car’s door handle had been damaged in the crash and would not open, West Virginia Metro News reported.
Trooper First Class Derek Walker arrived on the scene as Deputy Merson was clearing glass from the frame of the window and assisted in pulling the 16-year-old driver out of the smoking car, the video showed.
They pulled him out of the car through the window and put him on the ground.
That’s when the West Virginia State Trooper Michael Kennedy and Berkeley County Sheriff’s Deputy Austin Ennis arrived on the scene to assist, West Virginia Metro News reported.
The video showed the 16 year old struggled and resisted arrest as officers sought to handcuff him.
Deputies Merson and Ennis and Trooper Walker were all on the ground trying to subdue the boy when the video showed Trooper Kennedy began kicking him.
The video showed Trooper Kennedy put his knee in the boy’s back to pin him to the ground while another officer applied handcuffs.
The boy continued to resist arrest, and Trooper Kennedy suddenly started punching the 16 year old in the head, repeatedly, with a closed fist, the video showed.
The video showed the trooper punched the boy at least eight times.
Then he helped get the boy to his feet before he roughly tossed him to the ground again, the video showed.
The teen driver was transported to the hospital and later released, Herald-Mail Media reported.
Deputy Merson was injured in the incident and required stitches in his hand.
Troopers Kennedy and Walker were initially suspended without pay during the investigation, but were fired by the state on Jan. 18, the West Virginia Metro News reported.
Berkeley County Sheriff Curtis Keller terminated Deputies Merson and Ennis in January, too.
“He was there at the incident,” Sheriff Keller said of Deputy Ennis at the time he was suspended, according to Herald-Mail Media.
Deputy Ennis’ termination was overturned by the peer hearing board, and the sheriff said on Monday that he would not appeal.
Sheriff Keller said Deputy Merson has not had his peer hearing board yet, Herald-Mail Media reported.
On Wednesday, former Trooper Kennedy was charged by a federal grand jury in connection with the incident.
U.S. Attorney Bill Powell and U.S. Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, said in a joint news release that Kennedy was charged with one count of deprivation of rights under color of law, Herald-Mail Media reported.
The indictment said Kennedy was accused of assaulting the juvenile driver and injuring him during the arrest.
Kennedy faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if convicted, Herald-Mail Media reported.
Watch the incident unfold at 4:30 in the video below: