Suspect Sues Over Wood County Deputy's Videotaped Attack

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Updated 10/27/2010 7:30 p.m.

A Parkersburg man, who claims he was attacked by a Wood County Sheriff's deputy when he was taken to the county holding center, has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the former deputy and a state law claim against the department.

The lawsuit stems from an incident when Parkersburg resident Brian Sawyer was arrested for public intoxication and several other charges.

He was reportedly taken to the Wood County Holding Center where surveillance video shows an alleged attack by former deputy Jim Asbury.

Nearly a year ago on Oct. 29, 2009 Wood County Sheriff's officers arrested Parkersburg resident Brian Sawyer for several charges including public intoxication, assault of a police officer, disorderly conduct, and domestic battery.

John Bryan, Brian Sawyer's attorney said "Initially as far as my client knew he was being arrested for public intoxication and they threw some other charges in there as well not all of which made it through probable cause."

According to Wood County Magistrate Court, Sawyer pleaded guilty to assault of a police officer and the rest of the charges were dismissed.

Tuesday, Brian Sawyer, filed a federal lawsuit claiming former Deputy Asbury of choking him, slamming him into the door of a house, and into a police cruiser when he was first arrested.

In the complaint, Sawyer says he was not armed, suspected to be armed, or resisting.

The lawsuit also accuses Asbury of later allegedly attacking him with a finger lock, choke holds and punches to his face at the holding center.

"A state law claim for negligence by the Wood County Commission, essentially the sheriff's department which is under the county commission, but primarily it's a federal excessive force claim alleging that excessive force was used against Brian Sawyer," said Bryan.

The complaint states Sawyer's nose was broken, he had black eyes, swelling in his face, and blood in his mouth and nose after the incident.

In September, a grand jury found no charges should be filed against former deputy Asbury.

Sheriff Jeff Sandy released the following statement about the lawsuit:

“On October 26th, 2010, a federal law suit was filed concerning alleged “excessive force” violations being committed by a former employee of the Wood County Sheriff's Office. I assure the public that the Wood County Sheriff's Office will continue to cooperate fully. As Sheriff of Wood County, I am responsible for all events that have occurred at the Wood County Sheriff's Office since taking office. Under my watch the Sheriff’s office has not and will not tolerate illegal and unethical behavior by any employee that has taken the oath of office. The Wood County Sheriff's Office has some great public servants, and this alleged incident should not reflect upon the entire organization. In ending, as Sheriff, I welcome any and all investigations by federal and state investigators, because after their investigation is completed it will show an unbiased detail of the events.”

Now the FBI is reportedly looking into the incident.

Wood County Prosecutor Jason Wharton said he received a copy of the surveillance video in August of 2010 and then it went before the grand jury in September.

Sheriff Jeff Sandy said that the sheriff's office preserved a copy of the incident for any future need.

The surveillance video was released as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request.
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Charleston, W.Va. (AP) -- A suspect shown on surveillance video being attacked by a Wood County Sheriff's Deputy has filed a federal lawsuit against the department.

Brian T. Sawyer filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Charleston on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old Sawyer had been arrested in October 2009 on domestic assault, public intoxication and other charges.

The video shows Sawyer seated and gesturing at Deputy Jim Asbury before being choked and wrestled to the ground.

Sawyer's lawyer, John Bryan, told The Charleston Gazette that the charges have been resolved, although he didn't know their disposition.

The Deputy resigned in June.

The FBI is investigating the incident. Wood County Sheriff Jeff Sandy told the newspaper he welcomes the investigation and his department is cooperating.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)



 
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