WESTOVER, W.Va. (AP) — A Black West Virginia man has filed a federal lawsuit against a police chief and two white officers accused of pulling him from his home and beating him, fracturing facial bones and causing other serious injuries, according to the suit.
The lawsuit brought by Andre Howton this month in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of West Virginia names Westover Police Chief Richard Panico and officers Zachary Fecsko and Aaron Dalton.
Fecsko is accused of violating Howton’s civil rights by “unlawfully seizing” and using excessive force against him, while Dalton is accused of failing to intervene, among other allegations against the two. The lawsuit said Panico hired the officers despite previous records of violence.
The lawsuit alleged Fecsko struck Howton more than 13 times after responding to Howton’s home to help remove a woman from the residence on New Year’s Day in 2019. According to the lawsuit, Fecsko also called Howton “boy” because of his race, and then assaulted him while Dalton encouraged the beating,
The 22-minute encounter was captured on Dalton’s body camera, news outlets reported.
The two later denied Howton aid for his injuries, the lawsuit alleged.
Dalton used to work for the Fairmont Police Department but resigned after his involvement in the beating of a handcuffed man and Feckso had previously been charged with domestic battery after a violent encounter with an ex-girlfriend, according to the lawsuit.
Chief Panico said the department would not comment on the lawsuit, citing a pending investigation into Howton not related to previous charges against the plaintiff that were dropped in the 2019 case, according to WDTV.