Video of state trooper beating of suspect released

MARTINSBURG — The Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has released the dashcam video showing West Virginia State Police troopers allegedly using excessive force during an arrest in Berkeley County last year.

Authorities had withheld the video pending the outcome of the investigation. This week, one of two  troopers fired in January was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury.  The video is from the dashcam of a Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department cruiser. There is no audio.

The panel named Michael Kennedy, 29, of Morgantown, in a single count indictment of “Deprivation of Rights under Color of Law” in connection with his arrest of a 16-year-old boy.

A news release from the office of U.S. Attorney Bill Powell said Kennedy is accused of using excessive force resulting in bodily injury in the Nov. 19. 2018 arrest.

The FBI became part of the investigation a few weeks after initial information surfaced about the arrest.

Kennedy and Trooper First Class Derek Walker were fired by state police on Jan. 18. They had previously been suspended without pay.

The video starts with a sheriff’s deputy cruiser in pursuit of a speeding vehicle that eventually wrecks.  Police were in pursuit of the vehicle because it had crashed into the rear of a sheriff’s department cruiser minutes earlier.  The chase halts when the juvenile runs off the road.

Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Catie Wilkes-Delligatti said the video shows Berkeley County Sheriff’s Deputy C.S. Merson approaching the vehicle with Trooper Derek Walker behind him.   Deputy Merson breaks the window out of the vehicle because the door handle was broken in the accident and the door would not open. Merson and Walker pull the juvenile driver from the vehicle through the window. Trooper Michael Kennedy next approaches followed by Deputy Austin Ennis.

The video then shows the police trying to handcuff the suspect. At one point, Trooper Walker begins kicking the suspect. Eventually they subdue him, but then Walker approaches the suspect and repeatedly strikes him in the face.  Later, after the suspect is on his feat, Walker tosses him to the ground.

Berkeley County deputies Merson and Ennis, were fired by Sheriff Curtis Keller in January but Ennis was reinstated earlier this week.

Kennedy will make an initial appearance before a federal magistrate in the near future followed by a preliminary hearing and the setting of a trial date.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division is taking part in the investigation.

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