Ex-officer suit nears settlement

February 10, 2019 GMT

HUNTINGTON — A lawsuit against a former Huntington police officer accused of sexual assault and harassment is expected to be settled later this month in federal court.

The lawsuit filed in 2017 claims that on March 14, 2015, former Huntington Police Department officer Joshua Nield violated 14th Amendment due process rights while making a false arrest that resulted in an alleged sexual assault and battery. While Nield has not been criminally charged in the alleged incident, the civil lawsuit charges gross negligence and unlawful imprisonment at the hand of Nield.

The plaintiffs are only identified by initials in the lawsuit.

According to an order signed by U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers on Wednesday, the court has been advised of a pending settlement by Nield. Attorneys for the victims and Nield have been asked to submit their settlement agreement in the case by March 4.

The city of Huntington and plaintiffs asked for the city of Huntington to be removed from the lawsuit with prejudice earlier this week, but there was no indication if it had also settled in the case.

The lawsuit alleges that on March 14, 2015, the two women, both of Wayne, visited a nightclub in the 800 block of 7th Avenue in Huntington, an area where Nield was assigned to patrol. After they left the area to get food several hours later, Nield pulled the pair over and detained them for sexual favors, the women’s attorney, Timothy L. Eves, alleged in the suit.

The plaintiffs claim Nield asked them to pull into a parking lot and threatened to arrest them for driving under the influence before forcing them to do the “Macarena” dance and the little teapot dance to avoid going to jail.

Nield then placed the women into handcuffs without reading their Miranda rights, and the women got into the front seat of the cruiser. The women claim Nield took them to two locations in the 2600 and 2200 block of 5th Avenue in Huntington, where he sexually assaulted them inside of the vehicle, according to the lawsuit.

In the answer to the lawsuit filed by Steven K. Nord, who represents Nield, the defendant denied he was an on-duty Huntington police officer at the time of the alleged incident. He did admit the plaintiffs were passengers in his vehicle, although he did not specify if it was a police cruiser.

Nield argued any sexual interactions had been consensual.

Nathanial Kuratomi, who filed the city of Huntington’s response to the lawsuit, did not deny the accusations contained in the lawsuit, but said Nield had not been acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the incident.

The women alleged Nield continued to harass them by blocking their vehicle when it was parked at the nightclub the following day.

The day after that, he allegedly found one of the women at Rotary Park in Huntington with a man and asked her to get out of the vehicle before questioning her relationship with the man and asking her to leave the park.

In a separate, unrelated lawsuit, Nield cost the city and county hundreds of thousands when a settlement was reached in the death of Annie Earle, 66, at St. Mary’s Medical Center in January 2014.

Earle died when Nield held her face down on the hospital floor, according to the lawsuit. Nield grabbed Earle and lifted her into the air, eventually laying his full weight on her body. The slam fractured her ribs and compressed her thorax, resulting in a punctured heart and her death.

A Cabell County grand jury chose not to indict Nield and cleared him of any wrongdoing in relation to Earle’s death, and a civil lawsuit was later filed by Michigan attorney Clifford Paskel and local attorneys from Weston Robertson Law.

In that lawsuit, the city of Huntington agreed to pay $337,500, according to the documents, and Cabell County 911 agreed to pay $35,000.

Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at Facebook.com/CHesslerHD and via Twitter @HesslerHD.