KENOVA — A federal lawsuit was filed last week by the mother of a man who died while in the custody of Kenova police.
The lawsuit was filed by Paul M. Stroebel and William M. Tiano, on behalf of Olivia Dean, mother and administrator of the estate of James Dean, against the City of Kenova, Officer Charles Newman and any unidentified person who might have been involved in the claims.
It alleges the defendants violated Dean’s Fourth Amendment rights, reckless or malicious conduct and deliberate indifference. It seeks relief for damages including physical injury, medical bills, emotional and mental distress, court costs, attorney fees and expenses.
The defendants have not yet filed a response to the lawsuit.
According to the civil complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, Dean was arrested April 5, 2019, by the Kenova Police Department after a disturbance was reported at his house.
Previous HD Media reports said Olivia Dean told police her son was intoxicated and verbally abusing and threatening her at her Kenova apartment and at one point bruised her arm while trying to prevent her from calling 911.
Three officers responded to her call, and one left with her son while the others took her statement, Dean said.
The estate claims after his arrest and while in handcuffs, Dean was knocked to the ground and hit on his head multiple times by police officer Charles Newman, which caused serious injuries and ultimately his death. Shortly after arriving to the hospital, Dean fell into a coma and spent 17 days hospitalized before his family decided to remove him from life support.
Stroebel and Tiano said Newman’s report of the incident is inconsistent with autopsy results and findings made by the medical examiner and hospital.
The police reports states Dean fell and struck his head one time as a result of a fall.
The medical examiner reports showed Dean suffered multiple blunt force injuries to his head, including an 8-inch skull fracture, multiple subdural and subarachnoid hemorrhages, diffuse hemorrhage on the right and left hemispheres, cerebellum and base of the brain, as well as multiple areas of contusions on the frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital lobes.
The complaint said the medical examiner concluded Dean’s death was a homicide. Homicide is the killing of one person by another; it does not automatically indicate a criminal offense has occurred.
His estate argues the injuries were a result of Newman striking Dean multiple times in multiple places about his head and body while he was restrained in handcuffs.
“Defendant’s actions were done to decedent with the intent to inflict unnecessary harm and humiliation and was unnecessary. Moreover, the malicious intent of Defendant is established by the medical examiner’s report that determined Mr. Dean’s death was a result of homicide,” the attorneys wrote.
No criminal charges have been filed as a result of the incident, although it was referred to the West Virginia State Police for investigation. The attorneys wrote in the lawsuit the officer has not faced any repercussion from the incident.