|By David Hedges, Publisher|
State Police have completed their investigation into a fatal shooting involving a Roane Sheriff's Deputy.
Prosecuting Attorney Josh Downey issued a press release last Wednesday afternoon that said he had received an investigation report from State Police regarding the death of Timothy Rhodes that occurred Feb. 22. 2019.
The 28-year-old Rhodes was killed by a blast to the face from King's shotgun.
Roane Sheriff Todd Cole said immediately after the incident there had been a struggle and Rhodes was shot after he grabbed King's shotgun.
Downey said it was standard procedure for the Roane prosecuting attorney's office, because of its close working relationship with the sheriff's department and King. to request appointment of a special prosecutor to review the report and determine if any action was required. He said that request has already been made.
The announcement from Downey said the request "should in no way be interpreted by any individual or group that the Roane County Prosecuting Attorney's Office is of the opinion that Deputy M.P. King was in the wrong relating to any of his actions as a Law Enforcement Officer on Feb, 22, 2019. The West Virginia State Police's Investigation Report contradicts many public allegations made by individuals who were not present the time of Mr. Rhodes death."
When contacted, Downey would not say what allegations were contradicted by the report.
"The press release speaks for itself," he said following a county commission meeting Friday morning.
Downey also would not release a copy of the report.
"That's not my call," he said, referring the request to State Police or the law firm representing the Roane County Commission in a lawsuit filed by the Rhodes family.
State Police have not returned calls regarding the investigation since it began.
A reporter's call to attorney Wendy Greve with the firm of Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown and Poe representing the county provided a recorded message that said she was out of the office Tuesday afternoon.
King also was contacted for comment but did not respond.
The lawsuit labels King a "rogue" deputy with a history of complaints against him, which the county commission and Cole have failed to do anything about.
One of the attorneys who filed the suit against the county commission and King, former federal prosecutor Booth Goodwin, said he was pleased the report was complete and under-stood why Downey felt it was proper to recuse himself from the case.
"Mr. Downey obviously has worked with Deputy King and likely other witnesses to the instances of misconduct we have uncovered during our investigation, so it is entirely understandable and appropriate for him to step aside to avoid any appearance of bias," Goodwin said.
"Of course we have not yet seen a copy of the WVSP report, so I am unable to comment on Mr. Downey's characterization of it," Goodwin said.
Goodwin did question why Downey would comment on the report if he was stepping aside from the case.
Goodwin also said the allegations in the lawsuit were based, at least in part, on an eyewitness at the scene who has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
The suit claims Rhodes and his fiancĂ©e, Tammy Nichols, went to his family home on Ambler Ridge to pick up mail and other items. A neighbor called 911 to report the tires on Rhodes' truck threw rocks onto the neighbor's home, which shares a driveway with the Rhodes home.
The suit says the caller did not report any aggressive behavior by Rhodes.
The suit says King was not in uniform but wearing blue jeans, t-shirt and a bulletproof vest when he responded carrying a shotgun.
He allegedly ordered Rhodes and Nichols to get out of the truck and lay on the ground.
When Rhodes asked why, King allegedly responded it would not bother him to "blow your f---ing brains out" if he did not comply.
The suit says Rhodes did not present any physical threat to King or attempt to take his shotgun and was unarmed, not under arrest and in a completely defenseless position.
Nichols said King fired his shotgun at close range, hitting Rhodes in the face.
When Nichols asked King if Rhodes was dead, King allegedly responded, "Not yet, but he will be."
The suit has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Thomas E. Johnston.