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Berkeley County sheriff says two deputies fired over traffic stop, alleged beating

Berkeley County sheriff says two deputies have been fired after an internal investigation of a traffic stop involving two state police troopers and a sheriff's deputy in which a teenage motorist was seen being beaten. (WCHS/WVAH)

A West Virginia sheriff said two deputies have been fired after an internal investigation of a traffic stop involving two State Police troopers and a sheriff's deputy in which a teenage motorist was seen being beaten.

Berkeley County Sheriff Curtis Keller told The Journal on Wednesday that deputies C.S. Merson and Austin Ennis were terminated as the result of the investigation, but declined to go into details.

Allegations surfaced Nov. 29 when Gov. Jim Justice called for an investigation of two State Police troopers following a traffic stop in which he said the troopers were seen on a dashcam video beating a 16-year-old male suspect.

The troopers, identified as Trooper First Class Derek R. Walker and Trooper First Class Michael W. Kennedy, were suspended without pay, and State Police spokesman Reginal Patterson said the agency is still investigating.

Keller said the fired deputies have a right to a hearing, and both have requested hearings.

The FBI is investigating the incident, along with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and the Berkeley County Prosecutor's Office.

In an interview with MetroNews, State Police Superintendent Jan Cahill describes the video that shows the altercation. He said five officers are shown in the video and the juvenile is taken out of the vehicle after it crashes. At one point, the superintendent told MetroNews, a person is picked up and thrown.

Eyewitness News has filed several Freedom of Information Act requests with different agencies involved in the investigations in an effort to obtain the dashcam video in question and other documents related to the investigation. Berkeley County Prosecutor Catie Wilkes Delligatti denied the request because it "pertains to an ongoing investigation." She added, "However, I will ensure it is released upon the completion of the investigations into the incident."

The governor has condemned the alleged actions by the officers that are on the video.

“While I proudly support the brave efforts of our law enforcement agencies every day, it must be perfectly clear that I will NOT tolerate this kind of behavior in any way, shape, form, or fashion,” Justice said in the statement.

Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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