Advertisement

Settlement reached in wrongful arrest suit brought by Martinsburg woman

The sheriff's office has agreed to testify in support of expunging the charge filed against Lisa Lynn Bennett

July 13, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A lawsuit filed by a Martinsburg woman who claimed she was arrested in January 2012 by the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office for a crime she did not commit was settled last month for $50,000, attorneys said Friday.

As part of the settlement, the sheriff’s office has agreed to testify in support of expunging the misdemeanor charge filed against Lisa Lynn Bennett and to send a letter of apology to her, according to Berkeley County Council Attorney Norwood Bentley III and Peter A. Pentony, Bennett’s legal counsel.

One misdemeanor count of unauthorized use of a vehicle filed against Bennett was dismissed in October 2012 in Berkeley County Magistrate Court, according to court documents.

Sheriff Kenneth Lemaster, who signed the apology letter to Bennett, said Friday that Bennett’s arrest was “a regrettable thing to happen” and shouldn’t have occurred. 

Advertisement

Lemaster said he could not comment on whether Sheriff’s Deputy Morris Stewart was disciplined for obtaining a warrant charging Bennett with a crime by mistake.

Pentony said Friday that Berkeley County officials were “very straightforward and cooperative” in trying to make amends and resolve his client’s claims.

In the lawsuit, Bennett said that Stewart was provided a description of the suspect indicating the woman actually wanted for the unauthorized vehicle-use incident had “brown red hair and brown eyes.”
Bennett’s driver’s license indicates she has blue eyes, according to the lawsuit.

“Deputy Stewart never contacted (Bennett) to obtain information,” Pentony said in a seven-page complaint that was filed against Stewart and Berkeley County Council.

The complaint filed against Bennett alleged she took her boyfriend’s 1993 Mercury Cougar from 43 Hobart Circle on Aug. 26, 2011, after the couple had an argument and then broke up, according to court documents.

Morris said in the complaint that the man asked his girlfriend to move out of his residence and that she apparently took his vehicle after he left for work, according to court documents.

The man told the deputy that he saw his ex-girlfriend drive past his workplace along U.S. 11 in his vehicle and called police to report the incident, according to court documents. 

Pentony’s client asserted her constitutional rights were violated and alleged the deputy was negligent in his investigation of the crime.

“Deputy Stewart, while in the performance of his duties ... swore out a criminal complaint which was erroneous, which contained material misstatements and misleading statements and which contained omissions,” Pentony said in the complaint.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|