Family to sue W.Va. city and its police

Posted: April 25, 2013

The Winchester Star

Wayne A. Jones

WINCHESTER — A local family plans to file suit against the city of Martinsburg, W.Va., and its police department for more than $250 million, claiming officers used excessive force when they shot and killed Wayne A. Jones in March.

According to a Wednesday email from attorney Sherman L. Lambert Sr., who represents the Jones family as the estate of Wayne A. Jones, a notice of claim was sent to the city on April 2.

Lambert states in the email that a lawsuit cannot be filed until at least 60 days after the notice was sent.

Jones, 50, was shot and killed March 13 in the 100 block of South Queen Street, according to a March 14 media release from Martinsburg police.

According to the release, five officers opened fire at Jones with their duty weapons after he fought with them.

Prior to the shooting, the release states, the officers shot Jones twice with a Taser, to minimal effect, before he fled. After police caught up with him, he allegedly stabbed one of the officers in the torso and then refused to drop the knife.

The release states that the officer who Jones allegedly stabbed sustained a minor wound that did not require medical attention, but that the knife penetrated his uniform and vest.

All the officers involved in the shooting were put on paid administrative leave during an investigation by West Virginia State Police.

A member of the West Virginia State Police Task Force said Wednesday that the case remains under investigation. Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Jean Games-Neely confirmed that, and said that to her knowledge the officers involved remain on leave.

A representative from the Martinsburg Police Department did not return a call for comment Wednesday about the case.

It remains unclear why Jones — who is from Stephens City but had moved to Martinsburg — was initially stopped or what type of knife he was allegedly wielding.

The notice of claim states that “employees and members of the Martinsburg Police Department used excessive force and applied Taser shocks, shot and killed Wayne A. Jones.”

“The Estate of Wayne A. Jones, seeks monetary damages in the amount of $250 million,” the document states. “Said damages are based upon Taser shocks and multiple bullet wounds to the decedent’s body resulting in his death, by result of the willful, malicious, oppressive, and in reckless disregard for the constitutional rights of Wayne A. Jones, deceased; and thus justifying punitive damages against the City of Martinsburg Police Department, in an amount in accordance with proof.”

The estate of Wayne A. Jones also seeks to recover incurred funeral and other related expenses.

The family has expressed concern about the shooting since it happened.

Lambert said in the email that they have yet to receive an autopsy report from the prosecuting attorney’s office.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com