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Ranson officer sued in alleged assault

August 29, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A Maryland man is suing a local police officer for $1.25 million, claiming the officer assaulted him "for no apparent reason" following a foot chase for suspects involved in a robbery, according to court records.

Mario L. Boddie was initially identified as one of the attackers in the Sept. 13, 1997, robbery, but the victim later changed his story and said Boddie had nothing to do with the robbery, according to court records.

Boddie was one of two men who were chased by police around the Appletree Gardens apartment complex along W.Va. 9 in Ranson after the robbery at a nearby 7-Eleven store, according to the suit, filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court.

The suit claims Boddie, of Capitol Heights, asked Ranson Police officer Steve Harris several times why he was being chased, but there was no reply.

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Harris allegedly assaulted Boddie in front of one of the apartment buildings after the chase ended, the suit said.

Boddie required about 50 stitches to treat head wounds, and he had a gash in his head that may have been caused by the butt of a gun or a flashlight, his attorney, Keith Wheaton, said Friday.

Wheaton claims the Boddie's civil rights were violated as a result of excessive force by Harris, the suit said.

Harris said Friday there had been three fights during the time officers were trying to find suspects in the robbery, and said a "mob" gathered around officers as they were trying to make an apprehension.

In the last fight, Harris said he was kicked and struck by people as he was trying to bring the situation under control, and had to be treated at the hospital for hand injuries.

"I was overpowered. If anyone was a victim, I was," said Harris, who now works for the Charles Town Police Department.

"I totally disagree with the lawsuit, and justice will prevail in the end, I'm sure," Harris said.

Harris said he is troubled by the number of suits Wheaton has filed against police, adding the Martinsburg, W.Va., attorney seems to file a lawsuit every time police have to use force in a crime.

Wheaton said he thoroughly investigates every police case he handles. Wheaton said he interviewed 10 witnesses in the Boddie case who can verify the allegations in the suit.

"We do not go around and seek to sue the police. We don't have any problem with police doing their job," said Wheaton, who said he has two other suits similar to Boddie's pending in the courts.

Ranson Police Chief William Roper declined to comment on the suit.

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