|A former Glenville police officer will get a new trial following an opinion by the WV State Supreme Court.|
The justices overturned the conviction of Michael Lee Kendall, saying the jury should have decided whether circumstances required his entering a suspect's home without a warrant.
A Gilmer County grand jury in 2003 indicted the officer on eight felonies, including kidnapping, wanton endangerment and attempted voluntary manslaughter.
He was later convicted of lesser charges of brandishing and felony burglary and sentenced to 20 days in jail and five years of probation.
Kendall resigned from the Glenville department prior to his conviction.
His charges stemmed from an incident in which Kendall and an undercover Weston officer pursued a suspected drunk driver spotted in Glenville, followed by a high-speed chase, ending at the home of the suspect's father in another county.
Kendall said he had the suspect, Kevin Tingler, stopped, but Tingler fled again in his pickup and nearly struck Kendall, the officer claimed, after which he fired his weapon at the pickup and Tingler.
The officers then went to Tingler's father's house, although they reportedly lost sight of his vehicle during pursuit.
Kendall said there were lights on in the house when they arrived, but they were turned off once the inhabitants were aware of the officers' presence.
Kendall said he tapped on the door with his foot and the door came partially open.
With his gun drawn, he entered and found four people, two of whom testified they consented to Kendall searching the home, according to court records.
During Kendall's trial, prosecutors instructed the jury that Kendall needed a search warrant to enter the premises.
Kendall's lawyers contended Tingler had committed a felony by fleeing in a vehicle while DUI and may have been injured by the gunfire. They claimed those circumstances justified entry into the home without a search warrant.
The justices wrote that a jury should have decided whether or not Kendall's entry was justifiable.
Kendall, prior to working for Glenville, had reportedly been dismissed from the Clarksburg Police Department over problems he had experienced as an officer.
Justices found no evidence of Kendall's claim that prosecutors threatened the Weston police officer if he testified.
Check SEARCH for Kendall regarding earlier Herald stories regarding the incident.
To read the Court's opinion click ... WV Supreme Court of Appeals