Deputies, sheriff, county sued for excessive force
Morgan County residents Eileen Markous and her son Matthew Markous have filed suit against the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department, Deputies Seth Place and Richard Haynes, and the Morgan County Commission, claiming police used excessive force when they were unfairly arrested two years ago.
The lawsuit was filed on November 28 in U.S. District Court, Martinsburg, by Attorney Robert G. McCoid of Wheeling.
The complaint involves incidents at the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department on December 3, 2010.
According to the complaint, the Markouses went to the Sheriff’s Department to discuss a traffic citation issued by Deputy Place to Matthew Markous for a muffler violation.
The complaint alleges the discussion involved whether a muffler can be determined to be defective by the level of noise it emits and what discretion law enforcement uses to decide what level of noise is a violation.
At some point in the discussion, the son left the Sheriff’s Department.
“As the conversation between Mrs. Markous and Place ensued, Place became irate over the sheer audacity and temerity of an uppity citizen having the impudence to question his authority,” the complaint states.
The complaint alleges Place forcibly grabbed Mrs. Markous by her arm and tried to usher her out of the building. Markous pulled away from his grip and was then “thrown” into a chair by Place causing her to bang her head against the wall and causing numbness to her arm, according to the allegations.
Place arrested Markous for battery on a police officer, placed her in handcuffs and, with Haynes’ help, detained her.
Matthew Markous, who was outside smoking a cigarette, was informed by Place and Haynes that his mother had been arrested and was told to leave.
According to the complaint, when Markous requested an explanation, Place began “battering him” and Haynes shot Mace into Markous’ eyes, injuring his right eye.
The lawsuit complaint alleges that Haynes jumped on Markous’ back as he tried to walk away, pushed him against a parked vehicle and handcuffed him while “Place repeatedly yelled that he was ‘going to shoot.’”
Markous was then charged with battery on a police officer and obstructing an officer.
After repeated requests for medical attention, both Eileen and Matthew Markous were transported by ambulance to the hospital, according to the complaint.
Both were later arraigned and transported to the Eastern Regional Jail in Martinsburg. They were later released after posting $25,000 bond.
The suit alleges the arrests were unlawful, and that Place and Haynes used excessive force, committed battery and inflicted emotional distress.
The complaint says the incident led to malicious prosecution of the Markouses and alleges Place and Haynes conspired to arrest the two without probable cause.
The plaintiffs seek to recover losses and damages from past and future medical expenses, bail bondsman and attorney’s fees, and an unspecified amount for emotional and defamation damages.
In a jury trial in August, Matthew Markous was found innocent of battery and obstructing an officer.
Charges against Eileen Markous were dismissed by the prosecutor’s office a few weeks later.
The lawsuit has been assigned to District Judge Gina Groh, who has not yet set any hearing dates.