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Man files suit against Martinsburg, police officers

William E. Hale claims being shocked with a Taser caused burns on his neck, shoulders and back

September 21, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A man claims in a federal lawsuit that two Martinsburg police officers used excessive force when they arrested him in May during a rental-car dispute.

William E. Hale of Martinsburg claims he sustained more than 30 burns on his neck, shoulders and back from being shocked with a Taser by the officers, according to the lawsuit filed Friday by attorney Harry P. Waddell.

Hale, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor obstruction charge in July, claims his civil rights were violated and asserts that the police officers' treatment of him constituted "assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress," according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Martinsburg.

Hale is seeking an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages, according to the lawsuit.

The city of Martinsburg and the two police officers are named as defendants in the case.

City Attorney Floyd M. "Kin" Sayre III declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying he had not been served with it.

Hale, who was 61 when he was arrested, was charged with obstruction after failing to leave the Enterprise Rent-A-Car agency May 6 after being told to do so, according to the lawsuit.

Hale had reserved a car, but the vehicle was not available when he arrived to pick it up, the lawsuit said.

The situation led to a dispute, and Hale refused to leave the business until after contacting Enterprise's corporate office, the lawsuit said.

The police officers then were dispatched to the business and ordered Hale to leave, the lawsuit said.

Hale claims police were wrong to use a Taser because he was not violent or actively resisting officers when he refused to leave the rental-car agency.

The Taser left "permanent scarring and numbness to his left hand," the lawsuit claimed.

Hale has a heart condition and was treated at the Martinsburg VAs Medical Center after the incident to monitor his heart and functioning of his defibrillator, according to the lawsuit.

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