Attorney wants third party to review, monitor Westover police procedures

WESTOVER, W.Va. – The attorney for the plaintiff in the second civil rights lawsuit against the Westover Police Department is speaking out about his client’s case.

This is in addition to the lawsuit filed by Andre Howton in July of 2020 alleging officers Aaron Dalton and Zachary Fecsko beat him on New Years Day 2019 after removing a woman from the home. The lawsuit names Dalton, Fecsko and then chief of police in Westover, Richard Paniko.

Dalton is named in the Cox lawsuit and was also one of three other Fairmont police officers named in a 2010 lawsuit against the city of Fairmont and the police department alleging officials failed to properly train officers.

Travis Prince, attorney with Bailey Glasser, represents William Cox, of Westover, who was allegedly beaten by officers Aaron Dalton and Justice Carver in August of 2019. The suit alleges Cox was waiting at a Mountainline bus stop and was attacked while videoing the officers on his cell phone.

On WAJR’s Talk of the Town, Prince said when Cox told police he had the right to record them the officers used pepper spray, beat and kicked him at the bus stop.

“The beating was so severe a bone in his face was fractured,” Prince said,” Ultimately, he was taken to the sheriff’s office where he was chained to the floor before he was eventually housed at the North Central Regional Jail for nearly 40-days.”

Prince has asked for, but has not received body cam footage. The only video evidence Prince has is from a nearby surveillance camera and it is not clear if it was submitted with evidence from police.

“It’s our position that the surveillance footage is inconsistent with the report of the police officers and is inconsistent with the allegations in this case,” Prince said,” However, we do not yet know the extent to which that surveillance footage was even shared with anyone.”

Documents say the officers were attacked by Cox, but the video shows him standing next to the patrol vehicle when both officers got out and started beating him.

The only other known video evidence is the cell phone Cox was using to video the incident.

“Unfortunately, we don’t know what happened to his cell phone. We’ve obviously requested it be returned to William and he has not received it. We have not received it,” Prince said,” We don’t know the status of the cell phone right now, but we will find out through discovery.”

Questions also remain about the body cam footage, why police exited the vehicle and attacked Cox, why he was chained to the floor and not offered treatment after the beating, why the assault and battery on a police officer charges were dropped and why it took over a month to reduce his bond and release him from the North Central Regional Jail.

“I can promise you this, we will make every effort to find out and who knows what we’ll find out when the discovery process begins in this case,” Prince said,” And we put these officers under oath and ask these and other pressing questions.”

Prince believes two civil rights lawsuits in less than a year, and the same officer named in both shows foundational problems in the organization that would require an outside entity to address.

“We’ve asked for the appointment of a receiver, someone who can supervise and assist the city of Westover in training and educating their police officers on the policies that are in place,” Prince said,” To protect people like William.”