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Former Westover mayor not guilty of battery

Former Westover Mayor Dave Johnson has been found not guilty of misdemeanor battery stemming from an altercation with former Westover City Councilor Ralph Mullins. 

Both Johnson and Mullins confirmed Magistrate Jim Nabors’ ruling on the matter, which came following a May 23 hearing. The ruling had yet to be filed with the magistrate clerk’s office as of Thursday afternoon.  

“I’m glad it’s over,” Johnson told The Dominion Post. “They found I wasn’t guilty. It was a slam dunk. I’m really surprised they even went forward with it, but that’s the way it goes, I guess; someone makes a criminal complaint, they have to deal with it.” 

Johnson ended up charged with misdemeanor battery for shoving in Mullins’ direction after a heated exchange over whether the councilor could record a Feb. 22, 2022 executive session of Westover City Council.  

The two men had to be separated by Police Chief Joe Adams. Mullins said he was left with a torn meniscus following the encounter. 

“I’m disappointed in the decision. I was not present at the trial at the advice of counsel after speaking with the prosecutor. This was the fourth trial date set. I received a subpoena to testify the first three times but not this last time when the trial actually took place,” Mullins explained in a written statement. 

“I have before and immediately after the incident medical exams in which the difference between the two are a torn meniscus, which required surgery. They were not presented from my understanding. The truth did not prevail here.” 

Johnson was elected to seven two-year terms as mayor. He did not seek re-election in 2022. 

He said his last two years in office were largely spent dealing with false accusations from Mullins. 

“It’s unfortunate. The whole incident was unfortunate, but there’s no question it was started and caused by Mullins. He just wouldn’t let it go,” Johnson said.  “I don’t know what’s wrong with the boy, but I hope he straightens up. … He’s got some issues.” 

Both Johnson and this incident are part of an ongoing federal civil complaint filed by Mullins in September 2022. 

That suit names as defendants Johnson, City Attorney Tim Stranko, City Clerk Sandie Weis, current and former council members Edie Viola, Duane Tatar, Steve Andryzcik, Gary Weber and Jeffrey Friend, as well as the city of Westover. 

It claims Mullins faced retaliation and hostility in response to his attempts to highlight corruption within the city’s administration and council. 

Accusations include retaliation in violation of the First Amendment, violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, slander, assault, battery, violation of the West Virginia Whistleblower Law and intentional infliction of emotional distress. 

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