Seabolt Settles in Lawsuit Against Parkersburg

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UPDATE: 09/01/2013 7:56 PM

A settlement is reached in a police brutality lawsuit filed last year against a former Parkersburg Police officer.

According to the settlement, Jerry Seabolt will be awarded $135,000.

The lawsuit stems from a 2011 incident when Seabolt was arrested for public intoxication. During processing at the holding center, then Sergeant Josh Vensel punched Seabolt, knocking him unconscious.

Last year Vensel pleaded guilty to battery and surrendered his law enforcement license.

Seabolt also accused Mayor Bob Newell and the Parkersburg Police Department of encouraging police brutality.

This settlement drops the Parkersburg Police Department and Mayor Newell as defendants.

Mayor Newell tells us he's satisfied with the settlement and maintains the city does not encourage excessive force.

Update 6/7/2012 @6:40 PM

One month after a Parkersburg police officer pleaded guilty to battery, Jerry Seabolt, the victim, has filed a suit naming the officer, the mayor and the city.

Three city police officers...none of them named by Seabolt and his attorneys...are accused of making threatening statements to seabolt and slamming his head against a police cruiser during an arrest.

This is the same incident in which police officer Joshua Vensel pleaded guilty to battery last month.

Vensel was accused of attacking Seabolt last fall at the Wood County Holding Center.

He resigned last month from the police department and faces sentencing in August.

The suit also cites an exhibit in a suit filed late last year by Patrolman Nathan Deuley against the city, in which then-police chief Bob Newell is accused of encouraging use of excessive force in dealing with disorderly suspects.

In a statement released to WTAP late Thursday afternoon, the mayor says the city is disappointed that exhibit was used in the filing of the Seabolt suit.

Newell says that "As soon as the Vensel incident was reported to the mayor's office, the fbi and the U.S. Attorney's office in Charleston were
asked by Mayor Newell to conduct an independent investigation along with the county prosecutor. These actions by police officers are not condoned or tolerated."

Vensel is due to be sentenced on a charge of battery in late August.
Seabolt, meanwhile, has a long criminal history of his own, including charges or convictions for disorderly conduct and assault of a police officer.


Response by Mayor Newell - June 7th - 4:30pm

"The City of Parkersburg has not yet received notification that a lawsuit has been filed in the Seabolt case.

We are disappointed that Attorney Michele Rusen of the Law Firm of Rusen & Auvil has decided to use information from Attorney John Triplett as a basis for naming the mayor and police chief in a suit in which an officer has already taken full responsibility. Formal complaints have been filed by Mayor Newell with the Offices of Disciplinary Counsel in the State of West Virginia and State of Ohio against Attorney Triplett for his previous conduct.

As soon as the Vensel incident was reported to the mayor’s office, the FBI and the United States Attorney’s Office in Charleston were asked by Mayor Newell to conduct an independent investigation along with the County Prosecutor. These actions by police officers are not condoned nor tolerated.

All the evidence in the Vensel and Seabolt incident has been viewed and considered by a grand jury. The evidence is absolutely indisputable that Vensel struck Mr. Seabolt without provocation and Vensel has taken full responsibility for his actions and has pleaded guilty in Wood County Circuit Court. He resigned the same day as the plea was made.

Mr. Triplett’s and Ms. Rusen’s assertion that the office of the Mayor or Police Chief caused these events are unwarranted and inexcusable.

We will seek immediate Summary Judgment in Federal Court concerning these allegations against the mayor and police chief and seek reimbursement of attorney fees and other costs."

Original Post - June 7th, 2012 - 10:44am

The mayor and the city of Parkersburg are being sued yet again.

The latest lawsuit was filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of west Virginia.

This one involves former city police officer Joshua Vensel.
Last month Vensel pleaded guilty to battery of a suspect at the Wood County Holding Center in 2011.

Now that suspect, Jerry Seabolt, is seeking damages.

Seabolt alleges the mayor, police chief and city developed and encouraged using excessive force against detainees

A trial will be set to determine how much in damages Seabolt could receive.

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