Weigle files federal suit

CHARLESTON – Two Vienna police officers, Sgt. R.L. Pifer and Sgt. Brian Ingraham, the police department and the City of Vienna are named as defendants in a lawsuit filed by Jim Weigle less than a week after he was acquitted of charges made by the Vienna Police Department.

Weigle’s lawsuit was filed April 21 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia in Charleston.

In his suit, Weigle said on April 21, 2010 he was traveling south on Grand Central Avenue when he encountered a road block to allow for the annual River Road Run in Vienna and was injured by the officers.

Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp said Tuesday he was aware of Weigle’s filing, although he has not read it.

“We will deal with it when we get all the details,” he said. “Other than that, I have no comment.”

Vienna Chief of Police George Young said he was aware of the filing but had no comment.

Eventually, Weigle was charged with obstructing an officer and was convicted in Wood County Magistrate Court. That decision was overturned on April 17 in a Wood County Circuit Court bench trial.

According to his lawsuit, Weigle said he was stopped in traffic and approached by Vienna Police Sgt. R.L. Pifer for honking his car horn and was asked to pull over to the side of the road.

Weigle claims in the filing he gave Pifer his license and when he turned to get his registration and insurance information, Pifer slammed the car door shut, then grabbed Weigle’s left arm, and then slammed him into the hood of his cruiser, putting his elbow into the back of Weigle’s head and neck.

Sgt. Ingraham approached the cruiser and attempted to pull Weigle’s right arm from under him and pull his arm over his head, the suit states.

Weigle said he tried to explain he recently had abdominal surgery and he was in severe pain because of the position in which they were holding him. Weigle stated they did not release him.

“Defendant Ingraham responded, not by letting up on plaintiff and thereby avoiding further injury, but instead by threatening (Weigle) with pepper spray and then, during the altercation, a Taser was used on him causing him to lose control of his bowels.”

While they were processing him at the police department, Weigle said he needed medical attention but the police officers did not provide the attention, the suit claims.

Later in the evening Weigle was treated at an emergency room for abdominal tenderness, cervical sprain, low back sprain and a sprained right shoulder, he said. He suffered an abrasion to his right cheek, damage to his esophagus and damage to his bowels as a result of the pressure placed on him by the two officers, the lawsuit states.

Weigle also alleges on June 9, 2012, Pifer attempted to intimidate him by following him into his driveway and accused him of driving by Pifer’s house.

Pifer had no warrant for an arrest and had no reason to be there acting in an aggressive or intimidating manner, the suit alleges. Weigle was not issued a citation or warning and he said he was in fear for his safety.

Weigle claims he was deprived of his constitutional rights.

In count one Weigle said he was deprived of reasonable care and under West Virginia Code the department and the city are liable for his claimed injuries.

In a second count Weigle claims negligence by the city. He said the city and department breached a duty of care by employing Pifer.

In count three Weigle claims outrage stating the officers acted with malicious purpose, in bad faith and in a wanton and reckless manner. In count four he alleges infliction of emotional distress, assault in count five, battery in count six and malicious prosecution in count seven.

Under federal claims Weigle claims violation of his rights under the Fourth and 14th amendments and violations of his rights by the department and the city.

Weigle asks the court to award damages in an amount to be determined at trial to compensate Weigle for past, present and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, psychological and emotional distress and other damages to be proven at trial, punitive damage and attorney fees and expenses. A trial by jury is demanded.