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Lawyer says allegations against W.Va. cop are false

June 13, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.VA.

A lawyer representing an embattled former Shepherdstown Police Department officer who was let go from his job last week said Monday he has witnesses who can refute allegations made against the officer.

Charles Town, W.Va., attorney J. Mack Cavendish said he believes he can refute nearly every allegation that has been made against Chris Roper, and he plans to appeal Roper's termination in Jefferson County Circuit Court.

"I'll pretty much be going down through those one by one," Cavendish said.

Cavendish declined to go into detail about how he plans to defend Roper, but he said he also believes that Roper was charged with violation of police department policies that have not been properly enacted.

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Roper, who was let go from the Shepherdstown Police Department last Thursday, has been named in two lawsuits recently over his conduct at the department, although Mayor Peter Wilson said Monday that Roper's termination was over an incident separate from the incidents outlined in the suits.

Wilson said Roper's termination stemmed from an investigation being handled by Roper which "raised concerns" with Shepherdstown Police Chief Curtis Keller.

An officer with the Shepherdstown Police Department investigated Roper's actions and recommended that Roper be dismissed from his job, Wilson said.

Wilson said Keller then recommended to him that Roper be let go.

"I concurred with his judgment, and the officer was notified," Wilson said.

Roper decided to appeal the recommendation that he be dismissed to a town police hearing board, but that board upheld Keller's action, Cavendish said.

Roper was let go last Thursday, said Keller, who declined Monday to discuss the matter in detail.

Roper could not be reached for comment. Cavendish said he has advised Roper not to comment publicly about his dismissal.

Cavendish said there were some specific allegations made against Roper and then there was a "bunch of" talk about "this policy" and "that policy" being violated.

When allegations surface of a policy being violated, those can be interpreted in different ways, Cavendish said.

"We think we have a reasonably good chance of prevailing there," Cavendish said of Roper's planned appeal in circuit court.

Cavendish said he will formulate Roper's appeal over the next several weeks and it will go before a judge for a ruling.

In one of the suits against Roper, which is filed in U.S. District Court, it is alleged that Roper threw a Shepherdstown man into an alley one evening in 2003, kicked him several times and slammed his head into a wall, among other allegations.

In the other suit, filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court, Roper allegedly screamed at a woman, slammed her to the ground and handcuffed her.

The incident allegedly happened on Sept. 25, 2004, after one of three women on Princess Street told a woman to whom Roper was talking that she did not have to take a sobriety test.

Roper also was involved in the arrest of a Shepherdstown woman at the Jefferson County Fair last year which angered some local residents.

A woman who participated in a protest outside the Shepherdstown Police Department over the arrest of the woman said one of the woman's eyes and her face were badly swollen.

Jefferson County Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober said his department investigated the woman's arrest and found no wrongdoing.

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