Town wants to move VanTol case

October 10, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Shepherdstown's prosecutor Wednesday night moved to dismiss charges against a woman whose arrest during an Aug. 30 traffic stop led to allegations of excessive force by town police officer Charles Lynch, lawyers in the case said.

Town prosecutor Ralph Lorenzetti said Wednesday night he wants to dismiss charges of failure to obey a police officer, interfering with police and defective equipment against Nancy VanTol so they can be pursued in Jefferson County Magistrate Court.

Lorenzetti said he has made an identical motion in another case where Lynch arrested someone.

Lorenzetti said he wants to have the two cases heard in magistrate court because both defendants in the cases want jury trials.


It would be easier to have the trials in magistrate court because it has been years since a jury trial has been requested in Shepherdstown's city court, Lorenzetti said.

"It would be a pretty big effort," Lorenzetti said.

Town Judge Frank Hill did not immediately grant Lorenzetti's motion to drop the charges against VanTol during traffic court Wednesday night.

Hill said Lorenzetti will have to file a memorandum with him describing why the charges should be dropped in city court and pursued in magistrate court instead.

David A. Camilletti, VanTol's attorney, said he is opposed to having the case transferred to magistrate court.

The allegations of excessive force stem from a traffic stop in which Lynch pulled over VanTol on High Street for a burned-out headlight.

Luke Collins, who was working at the Blue Moon Cafe at the time, said that after VanTol got out of her car and started walking toward the restaurant, Lynch "took her down aggressively."

Lynch rolled VanTol over, put his knee on her back and handcuffed her, Collins said.

A second officer ran to the scene and held his gun about three feet from VanTol as she was on the ground, Collins said.

Eventually, nine officers came to the scene, Collins said.

Shepherdstown Police Chief Charles Cole has given Shepherdstown Council members a report of about 70 pages.

Council members reviewed the report during an executive session Monday night and expect to make a decision on the case this week.

A few days after the incident, Cole said his preliminary investigation led him to believe that Lynch had acted "within his rights" during the traffic stop.

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