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Jury acquits former Ranson police officer

January 05, 2001

Jury acquits former Ranson police officer



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer


CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A former Ranson police officer was acquitted Friday of charges he assaulted a Maryland man "for no apparent reason" during a robbery investigation four years ago.

After hearing three days of testimony, a six-member jury acquitted Steve Harris of the charges, said Shayna Funkhouser, a clerk in the Jefferson County Circuit Clerk's office.

"Obviously, I'm pleased with the verdict," Harris said Friday.

Often there are times when a police officer's safety is threatened, and officers must apply force to make an apprehension, said Harris, who is now an officer with the Charles Town Police Department.

"That's what this case is about," Harris said.

Keith Wheaton, attorney for Mario L. Boddie, who filed the suit against Harris, said he believed there was evidence to show Harris was liable for Boddie's injuries.

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Boddie, who was suing Harris for $1.25 million, claimed Harris assaulted him following a foot chase for suspects in a Sept. 13, 1997, robbery.

Boddie was initially identified as one of the participants in the 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 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 Harris several times why he was being chased, but there was no reply.

Harris was accused in the suit of assaulting Boddie in front of one of the apartment buildings after the chase ended.

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

The suit alleged Boddie's civil rights were violated as a result of excessive force by Harris.

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

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.

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