(05/01/2002)
More than $18 million dollars has been paid in claims against the West Virginia State Police between 1987 and 2001, according to information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

At least $5 million has been paid to victims within the past five years.

The $18 million in settlements includes general liability claims, accidents, brutality and other claims.

A McDowell County man just settled a multi-million dollar brutality lawsuit against eight State Policemen and other law officers for $187,500. Bryant Jones filed the suit in December 2000.

Jones claimed he was handcuffed to a chair and beaten by five members of the West Virginia State Police. He also claimed he was assaulted on other occassions.

A few of the cases settled:

A secretary for the State Police, Sandra Basham, was awarded $95,000, charging Capt. Rusty Blankenship made sexual advances toward her. Blankenship is no longer a policeman.

The family of Melanie Winfrey was awarded $1 million after her boyfriend Trooper Rodney Robinson shot and killed her and then himself.

A Raleigh County woman was awarded $75,000 after retired Trooper John Henry Zirkle, who was assigned to the West Virginia Turnpike, reportedly had sex with her in a parking lot.

The Smailes family in Martinsburg was awarded $775,000 after Amanda Smailes was killed in a crash after being chased in 1996 by Trooper Kevin Plummer.

A Berkeley County man, James Minghini, Jr., was awarded $60,000 after he accused troopers of beating him. Over $454,000 was spent handling the case.

Neil Rose of Welch was awarded $1 million after Welch troopers broke down his door and beat him.

Logan resident McCoy Hatcher accused Trooper C. J. White of battering him, and was awarded $40,000.

James Richardson of Kanawha County was awarded $1 million because of a false conviction related to State Police Chemist Fred Zain.


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