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Fired West Virginia trooper indicted in excessive force case

March 20, 2019

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — A former West Virginia state trooper who was fired after an investigation into a traffic stop beating was indicted in federal court Wednesday.

A grand jury indicted 29-year-old Michael Kennedy of Morgantown on one count of deprivation of rights under color of law — language used to describe crimes committed by police officers while on duty.

Kennedy and a fellow trooper from Martinsburg were fired in January. State police reviewed dashcam video of the Nov. 19 incident after Gov. Jim Justice ordered an investigation into what he called the beating of a 16-year-old male suspect. Police say the white teen was involved in a crash with a Berkeley County sheriff’s department cruiser before the two troopers pursued him.

The indictment accuses Kennedy, who is black, of using excessive force resulting in bodily injury. It’s not immediately known whether Kennedy has an attorney.

Two sheriff’s deputies also were fired, but a hearing board last week ordered one of them reinstated.

The teen was treated at a hospital and released. State police previously did not provide details of the traffic stop, the teen’s injuries and whether they were related to the arrest or the crashes. The American Civil Liberties Union’s West Virginia chapter had said it would look into whether the teenager’s civil liberties were violated.

Authorities have not released the dashcam video.

Justice had said the incident “cast a dark shadow” on law enforcement.

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