UPDATE: Trooper charged in beating was previously cleared by agency

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MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - UPDATE: 05/30/2019

Trooper charged in beating was previously cleared by agency
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MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - A West Virginia trooper federally charged in the beating of a teenager was previously cleared of wrongdoing in the case by his department.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports a recently released West Virginia State Police internal investigation says Trooper Michael Kennedy didn't engage in criminal conduct during the November arrest of the 16-year-old.

However, Kennedy was later indicted on a charge of deprivation of rights under color of law, which describes crimes committed by on-duty police officers.

Dashcam video shows the teen driver fleeing police and crashing before being kicked, stomped on and punched by officers. Two county deputies in the video were fired and later reinstated. Kennedy and Trooper Derek Walker were fired. Walker wasn't charged. Kennedy's trial is set for October.


UPDATE: 04/13/19

Berkeley County Sheriff Curtis Keller announced Friday two deputies involved in a controversial arrest last year would be back on the job Monday.

Keller tried to fire deputies Austin Ennis and Chris Merson in January after a November 2018 alleged excessive force arrest of a 16-year-old boy that came after a pursuit in Berkeley County. The arrest was recorded on a cruiser dashcam.

Ennis and Merson fought the attempt to fire them and two review boards sided with the deputies.

Keller could have appealed to the deputy sheriff’s civil service commission but instead Friday announced Ennis and Merson were coming back to work. Keller’s news release said disciplinary action had been imposed and accepted by all parties.

The Herald Mail reported Keller’s announcement came a day after the Berkeley County Council voted to hire an attorney to help Keller with the appeal. The paper also reported the discipline for deputies was believed to be 10 days without pay.

Former state police trooper Michael Kennedy, who was fired after the incident, appeared before a federal magistrate judge this week after being indicted by a grand jury. He’s charged with deprivation of rights. A trial date has been scheduled for June 4.

The video shows police trying to handcuff the suspect. At one point, Trooper Kennedy begins kicking the suspect. Eventually they subdue him, but then Kennedy approaches the suspect and repeatedly strikes him in the face. Later, after the suspect is on his feet, Kennedy tosses him to the ground.

The pursuit began after the driver rear-ended Merson’s cruiser on U.S. 11.


UPDATE: 4/9/19 11:25 A.M.

A judge has set a trial date for a former West Virginia state trooper accused of beating a teen-age boy during an arrest.

The Journal of Martinsburg reports 29-year-old Michael Kennedy was arraigned Monday in federal court and trial was scheduled for June 4.

Kennedy was indicted last month by a federal grand jury on one count of deprivation of rights under color of law, language used to describe crimes committed by police officers while on duty. The indictment accuses Kennedy of using excessive force resulting in bodily injury during the Nov. 19 arrest.

A police dashcam video shows a West Virginia officer kicking and punching the handcuffed 16-year-old on the ground and kneeling on his shoulder after the teen allegedly rear-ended a deputy's car and fled.


UPDATE: 3/21/19

A West Virginia prosecutor has released a police dashcam video of a 16-year-old boy being beaten by officers during a November traffic stop.

Berkeley County Prosecutor Catie Wilkes Delligatti released the eight-minute video to The Associated Press on Thursday. The teen's face is redacted in the video, taken from a sheriff's cruiser.

Authorities originally denied media requests for the video, citing the investigation.

Two state troopers and a sheriff's deputy were fired in January. Another deputy who was fired recently got his job back.

One trooper was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday on one count of deprivation of rights under color of law - language used to describe crimes committed by police officers while on duty.

The indictment accuses Michael Kennedy, 29, of using excessive force resulting in bodily injury.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 3/20/19 6:45 P.M.

A federal grand jury indicted a former West Virginia State Police trooper on Wednesday for his role in the alleged beating of a teenage driver following a pursuit.

Michael Kennedy, 29, is charged with one count of deprivation of rights under color of law," according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office in Wheeling.

According to the indictment, he allegedly used excessive force that resulted in bodily injury during the arrest on Nov. 19 in Berkeley County.

Kennedy could be sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined up to $250,000 if he's convicted.

He was one of two troopers and two Berkeley County sheriff's deputies fired after the incident involving a 16-year-old driver.


UPDATE: 1/18/2019

Two West Virginia State Police troopers and two Berkeley County Sheriff's deputies are fired, after an investigation of a traffic stop in which a 16-year-old driver was allegedly beaten after he led officers on a chase on Nov. 19, 2018.

In a statement released Friday, Major Reginald Patterson, Chief of Staff Services for the West Virginia State Police, said:

"The West Virginia State Police conducted an internal investigation into allegations of excessive force used by two Troopers related to an incident with a 16 year old motorist after a pursuit in Berkeley County.

These two Troopers, Trooper First Class Michael Kennedy and Trooper First Class Derek Walker, have been discharged from the West Virginia State Police effective January 17, 2019.

No further comments will be made at this time."

The allegations surfaced on Nov. 29 when Gov. Jim Justice called for an investigation of two troopers after a traffic stop in which he said the officers were seen on a dashcam video beating a 16-year-old male suspect after a police chase on Nov. 19, 2018.

The FBI, West Virginia State Police and Berkeley County Prosecutor are each conducting their own investigations into the incident.


UPDATE: 1/18/19 10:05 A.,M.

A West Virginia sheriff says two deputies have been fired after an internal investigation of a traffic stop involving two state police troopers and a sheriff's deputy in which a teenage motorist was seen being beaten.

Berkeley County Sheriff Curtis Keller told The Journal newspaper in Martinsburg on Wednesday that deputies C.S. Merson and Austin Ennis had been terminated, but he declined to go into details.

Allegations surfaced on Nov. 29 when Gov. Jim Justice called for an investigation of two troopers after a traffic stop in which he said the officers were seen on a dashcam video beating a 16-year-old male suspect.

The troopers were suspended without pay, and state police spokesman Reginald Patterson said the agency is still investigating.

Keller said the fired deputies have a right to a hearing and that one has been requested but not yet scheduled.


UPDATE: 12/6/18 4:42 P.M.

A West Virginia county prosecutor says the FBI has opened an investigation into a traffic stop involving two state police troopers and a sheriff's deputy in which a teenage motorist allegedly was beaten.

Berkeley County Prosecutor Catie Wilkes Delligatti said Thursday the FBI investigation is separate from one her office is conducting into the Nov. 19 incident.

Gov. Jim Justice learned last week of dashboard camera video involving a 16-year-old male.

Trooper First Class Derek R. Walker, Trooper First Class Michael W. Kennedy and Berkeley County Sheriff's Deputy Austin Ennis have been suspended without pay. Walker and Kennedy are stationed at the State Police detachment in Martinsburg.

Delligatti says after all investigations are complete, she'll coordinate with federal prosecutors on any further action. She'll also wait to release the video until the FBI has finished its interviews and investigation.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 12/4/18 12:35 P.M.

One of two West Virginia state troopers suspended after a teen suspect allegedly was beaten during a traffic stop last month faces an excessive-force lawsuit from an earlier incident.

Charles Town attorney Braun Hamstead filed the lawsuit earlier this year against Martinsburg Trooper 1st Class Derek Walker, who had arrested Hamstead's wife in 2016.

The lawsuit says Walker dragged Julie Ann Hamstead in a parking lot and slammed her to the ground before placing her in handcuffs.

Walker and Trooper 1st Class Michael Kennedy, who worked at the Martinsburg detachment, were suspended after dashcam video showed them allegedly beating a teen suspect after a pursuit on Nov. 19.

A federal judge in August ruled Walker was acting in his official capacity, was entitled to qualified immunity and removed both him and the state police from the lawsuit.

The judge has not ruled on an amended complaint filed in September that attempted to add Walker and state police back into the lawsuit.

A state police spokesman did not immediately comment on the lawsuit Monday.

Meanwhile, Berkeley County sheriff's deputy has been suspended without pay over the traffic stop.

Sheriff Curtis Keller said Deputy Austin Ennis was present during the incident. He was suspended on Friday.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 11/30/2018

West Virginia State Police Trooper First Class Derek Walker and Trooper First Class Michael Kennedy are on leave for allegedly beating a teen suspect after a police chase on Nov. 19.

Both troopers have been working for WVSP for nearly 7 years.


ORIGINAL STORY: 11/29/2018

Two West Virginia State Police troopers are on administrative leave without pay, after dashcam video allegedly shows the troopers beating a 16-year-old suspect after a police chase.

WVSP officials say the two troopers from the Martinsburg Detachment, who have not been named, responded to a police chase involving a 16-year-old male on Monday, Nov. 19.

Troopers say the chase began after the teen crashed his vehicle into a Berkeley County Sheriff's Department patrol vehicle and refused to stop.

The teen led officers on a police chase, but eventually crashed, was arrested at the scene, and was treated at a local hospital.

Investigators say a patrol car dashcam video from the scene shows the two troopers beating the suspect during his arrest.

WVSP officials say after they watched the dashcam video, they began a criminal and internal investigation into the actions of the two troopers, who are suspended without pay until the investigation is complete.