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Trial postponed for man accused of trying to stab police officer with spike

Douglas Charles Butler of Martinsburg was shot in the chest in the incident

November 15, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • Douglas Butler
Douglas Butler

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The trial for a man accused of attempting to stab a police officer with a railroad spike in March was postponed Thursday in Berkeley County Circuit Court because the defendant has yet to undergo an evaluation that attorneys said is needed to proceed with the case.

Douglas Charles Butler, 45, who was shot in the chest by a Martinsburg police officer during the altercation, was indicted in May on one count of attempted malicious assault.

Butler’s trial, which was set for Nov. 27, was not rescheduled Thursday at what was to be the Martinsburg man’s pretrial hearing. A status hearing for the case was set for Jan. 17.

Defense attorney Thomas Stanley told presiding 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge John C. Yoder that Butler is scheduled to be in Morgantown, W.Va., on Dec. 6 for the evaluation, but a transportation issue had complicated that arrangement.

Stanley said a physician who treated Butler concluded that the defendant was not competent to stand trial at this point, but that conclusion could not be relied upon because of the doctor’s involvement in Butler’s care.

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Butler was hospitalized at a psychiatric hospital in Weston, W.Va., after being treated for the gunshot wound to the chest.

Butler was shot by a Martinsburg police officer after he walked toward the officer with a railroad spike in his right hand, raised above his head in a stabbing position, according to court documents. The officer told the man several times to drop the spike and to get on the ground, but he did not follow orders, according to police.

As the man moved closer to the officer, who was backing away, the officer drew his gun and continued to give the man verbal commands, police said.

The man did not comply with orders, so the officer fired one round, striking him in the chest, police said.

After being shot, police said the man stopped, turned away from the officer and began walking away, according to court records.

Another officer then ordered the man to the ground, but he refused, police said in court documents. After being shocked with a stun gun, the man fell to the ground, but he continued to disregard officers’ commands, and the weapon was fired several more times before he complied, court documents said.

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