PARSONS WILL LEAD STATE POLICE'S INTERNAL UNIT - Officer's Brutality Charges Created Professional Standards

By Bob Weaver

A West Virginia State Police captain who is now in charge of the agency's Professional Standards Unit was once the subject of an alleged brutality probe that originally caused the unit's creation.

Captain Joe Parsons said "I can certainly see the irony in the situation."

The Parsons case resulted in a Supreme Court ruling.

Parsons is now in charge of complaints against the State Police, inside and outside the department.

Parsons replaced chief investigator Capt. B.D. Gore who was the subject of sexual harassment allegations by three female employees. The employees claim the department ignored their charges, and they have now filed civil suits.

Gore was reportedly reduced in rank and moved to a different department, the charges un-sustained.

A 1990-91 complaint against Trooper Parsons involved a 17-year-old special education student at Harts High School in Lincoln County.

Parsons attempted a traffic stop on Billy Ray Castro, Jr., after which the youth continued driving his vehicle a short distance.

The family said the youth became frightened.

Trooper Parsons reportedly beat him with his fists and a flashlight, resulting in injuries. He claimed Castro came at him.

Castro's father said his son, now in his 30s, was "kicked by the officer."

"I think if I hadn't got there when I did," said the boy's father, "He would have been hurt worse."

The elder Castro said he complained about having fellow officers investigate the incident. "If you're going to send your buddy over here, don't bother," he said.

The issue was taken to the West Virginia Supreme Court in a 1993 petition stating that allegations "investigated by persons close to the offending officer and then ignored" should not be part of an internal review system.

The court agreed that State Police had no independent oversight and ordered the agency in 1995 to create a better way to investigate instances of police brutality.

The Supreme Court recommended a Civilian Review Panel, but the State Police went with the present internal system.

State Police Deputy Superintendent Lt. Col. Dave Williams said "There was no real concern or hesitation by those involved in the decision to appoint Parsons head of Professional Standards."

The State Police confirmed that Parsons had physical contact with the teenager, but brutality claims were never proved and the case was closed as unsubstantiated.