CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH — Gov. Jim Justice took time during a news conference on several unrelated issues to weigh in publicly on the suspension of two West Virginia State Police troopers, along with a Berkeley County deputy sheriff, who are accused in the beating of a teenager following a police pursuit in Martinsburg.
Justice called the troopers' actions "ridiculous and inexcusable" but said he had not personally reviewed dash camera video that is being used in the investigation.
"I have been told over and over by Jan Cahill and everyone else what is in every scene of the video," Justice told reporters.
In an interview with MetroNews on Monday, Cahill, the state police superintendent, described 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, he said a person is picked up and thrown. Cahill denied an interview request with Eyewitness News on Monday.
Justice was the first to make the accusations of excessive force used by the troopers public last week after he issued a news release announcing they had been suspended without pay following the incident that happened on Nov. 19.
"You've got 600-plus great state policemen and this made them look awful. That's all there is to it. I promise you, to the Lord above, this governor's not going to stand for this crap. That's all there is to it. I can't say it anymore point blank than that," Justice said on Tuesday.
Justice called the teen's actions "just plain stupid," going on to say, "And then you had the reaction of people that aren't 16. They took the job, they took the job knowing that their behavior can't be 16. Then you had, you had, in all honesty, you had way beyond necessary force. You had beating of a kid."
"I stand rock solid with out police force in every way, shape form or fashion, but I'm not going to stand rock solid with something that is wrong," the governor said.
Eyewitness News has filed several Freedom of Information Act requests for the video in question. When Justice was asked if he supported releasing the video to the public as soon as possible, he said he supported transparency but didn't know what the "legal ramifications" were of releasing it.
"I don't know what the legality is. From the standpoint of, everyone deserves a fair trial. We don't need to be tried by the media," he said.
Berkeley County Prosecutor Catie Delligatti denied the Freedom of Information Act request to see the video on Monday 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."
Justice made clear where he stands.
"Really and truly, from what I've been told. There's just no excuse. Period," the governor said during his remarks.