DUNBAR, W.Va. — Charleston attorney Jesse Forbes said he’s representing two West Virginians who are filing a lawsuit against the Dunbar Police Department after public records relating to misdemeanor arrests were denied.
Forbes said the complaints allege city officials refused to release surveillance footage and documents related to two arrests following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
“One of these persons was actually arrested following her husband being in a car accident. She was on her way to work. She was thrown to the ground, her wrists were broken by the Dunbar Police Department, and she’s very concerned about what happened there,” Forbes told MetroNews.
Jessica Carter alleged her wrist was broken on Dec. 4, 2024 as officers tackled her and placed her in handcuffs at the scene of a crash.
The complaint also said on Aug. 18, 2023, Dunbar police arrested Roger McKinney and officers struck the man, “causing serious bodily injury that required emergency medical attention.”
Forbes said they need to know what happened in both those incidents, but the city is withholding that information.
“It’s really a sad day for the citizens of Dunbar where we have to file a lawsuit and go to court to force the city to turn over public information that every citizen has a right to,” he said.
The lawsuit comes after a $2 million wrongful death settlement was made in Dunbar where a man was fatally injured while in police custody.
Forbes said the written requests for information were denied as city officials said the arrests are not part of any ongoing investigation. He said this has happened before.
“Unfortunately, this has been a repeated issue when we request information from Dunbar of them not turning over body cam footage and not turning over information that should be in the public domain. These people work for the citizens,” he said.
Forbes said they’re requesting a review of the defendants’ records, for the city to cover legal fees and for a hearing related to the matter.
“We’re hopeful that by filing this action that Dunbar will comply with the FOIA laws of this state. Those laws are designed so that governments act in the light of day, not in the shadows,” he said.