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Martinsburg officials asks judge to dismiss shooting lawsuit

August 09, 2013

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Martinsburg officials want a judge to dismiss a lawsuit by the family of a Virginia man shot to death after a scuffle with city police officers.

In a motion filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, attorneys also argue that the police department cannot be sued as a separate legal entity because it’s just a subdivision of the city.

Two brothers of Wayne Arnold Jones, 50, of Stephens City, Va., are demanding $200 million in compensatory and punitive damages in the March shooting in the Eastern Panhandle.

They allege that officers used unreasonable and excessive force, shooting Jones 15 to 25 times while he was on the ground.

The findings of a West Virginia State Police investigation into the city police officers’ actions in the shooting will be presented to a grand jury in Berkeley County Circuit Court in October, Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said Friday.

The grand jury also will hear the findings of an outside expert who was asked to review a portion of the state police investigation, Games-Neely said.

Games-Neely declined to make any additional comment about the investigation.

The federal lawsuit claims Jones was on medication for schizophrenia, and that police stopped him on the street for no reason. It names the city and the police department as defendants, as well as 15 unidentified “John Doe” defendants.

The death certificate for Jones, which was attached to the lawsuit, said the deceased died from multiple gunshot wounds.

The lawsuit also contends the police department has hired officers with a known propensity for excessive force, violence and misconduct, and alleges those officers were not adequately trained before the shooting or disciplined afterward.

Jones reportedly told police he had a weapon but wouldn’t say what it was, then grew angry and refused subsequent orders. Police said Jones fled, and a scuffle ensued. One officer suffered a minor stab wound.

The lawsuit said the officers fired Tasers at Jones, then pointed their guns at him and screamed confusing and contradictory instructions.

It claims police then formed a semicircle 3 to 4 feet from Jones, in what the victim’s family calls a firing squad formation.

The Associated Press and Staff Writer Matthew Umstead contributed to this story.

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