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Lawsuit against state trooper settled in W.Va.

October 14, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Kevin Weaverling is the type of man who carries in his wallet a folded, nearly worn-out photograph of his dog Buttons, not the kind of man who would shoot someone else's dog and obstruct police, his attorney said during a press conference Wednesday.

Martinsburg attorney Laura Rose held the press conference outside the Berkeley County Courthouse to announce that a civil police brutality lawsuit has been settled in her client's favor and that the State Police issued a written apology to Weaverling.

Part of the apology, which was written on State Police letterhead and signed by State Police Superintendent Col. Howard E. Hill Jr., reads: "Trooper (R.A.) Spearen failed to adhere to proper departmental procedures which failure ultimately resulted in the arrest of Kevin T. Weaverling for obstructing and causing physical and emotional injury to Mr. Weaverling and his wife and daughter.

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"The Department apologizes to the Weaverling family for the embarrassment resulting from the arrest of Mr. Weaverling and for the physical and emotional distress suffered by the members of the family arising from the failure of the officer to follow proper procedure."

Rose said the letter was faxed to her office on Tuesday. A separate letter, also on State Police letterhead and signed by Hill, said that Spearen was suspended from his duties.

As part of the settlement, Weaverling, 42, received $115,000 and an assurance from the State Police that Spearen has been transferred to another part of the state and will not return to work in the Eastern Panhandle, barring an emergency, according to court records.

Rose provided reporters with photocopies of the $115,000 check. She said she and the Weaverlings refused to endorse the check until they received the written apology.

Weaverling said he was asleep in his Glengary, W.Va., home on Aug. 12, 2001, when Spearen was allowed into his home to investigate the shooting of a neighbor's dog, which survived.

Weaverling said his wife let Spearen inside.

"He never told me why he was there," Weaverling said. "He came in the house like Rambo."

Weaverling said that Spearen kicked the back of his leg three times and punched him, breaking his glasses and causing his nose to bleed. His wife was punched when she tried to help, Weaverling said.

Photographs taken by a nurse in the Winchester (Va.) Medical Center emergency room show bruises and other injuries to Weaverling.

As a result, Weaverling's left shoulder's rotator cuff was torn and he continues to undergo rehabilitation for that and a separate injury caused from a fall at his workplace, Rose said.

A jury found Weaverling innocent of the misdemeanor charge of obstructing police. Although Weaverling was never charged with shooting the dog, Rose hired ballistics experts, who said that none of Weaverling's guns had been fired for months or longer.

Weaverling reasserted Wednesday that he did not shoot his neighbor's dog. When asked whether he has a dog of his own, he said he does and took the photograph from his wallet.

Both sides agreed on Aug. 25 to settle the case, with the official settlement reached after mediation on Sept. 15, Rose said.

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