LEWISBURG — Civil lawsuits filed by a father and daughter against city and county police allege police brutality and ask for $3 million in damages.

The lawsuits filed by Ronald Depriest and his daughter, Shelbie Crookshanks, both of White Sulphur Springs, arose from a September 2003 incident, according to their Fayetteville lawyer, Belinda Morton.

The lawsuits name the White Sulphur Springs Police Department, Patrolman William Nestor, the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Department and Deputy Adam Martin.

Police records indicate three members of the Depriest family were arrested near their home in White Sulphur Springs on Sept. 30, 2003, after Nestor attempted to pull over Jesse Depriest. Crookshanks was arrested the following day.

Nestor followed Jesse Depriest, 41, to his residence where he began performing field sobriety tests outside. After failing three such tests, Jesse Depriest was arrested on fleeing while under the influence charges and subsequently blew a .093 Intoxilyzer test administered later. Jesse Depriest had been previously convicted of driving while revoked earlier in the year, according to Nestor.

Records further indicate while tests were being administered to Jesse Depriest, his father, brother and sister walked to where Nestor was placing Jesse Depriest under arrest.

Police say the three became verbally abusive toward them and began to interrupt the arrest of Jesse Depriest. Ultimately, Ronald Depriest, 71, and Ronald Depriest Jr. were arrested on charges of obstructing an officer. Crookshanks was arrested the next day on battery of a police officer.

During the arrest of Ronald Depriest, Deputy Martin stated in his complaint, the elder Depriest “attempted to strike this officer” with a cane and then fell along a small embankment. He said the accused began to complain of chest pains and was transported to Greenbrier Valley Medical Center by ambulance.

Morton filed the lawsuits, claiming Crookshanks’ and Ronald Depriest’s civil rights had been violated on the night of the incident.

“Mr. Depriest had a heart attack because he was pushed to the ground by the police officers,” she said Tuesday. “Shelbie just asked the police officers what was going on and she was attacked by Nestor.”

In Nestor’s criminal complaint, he said Crookshanks “hit him in the face and chest” and was “bitten twice on the left arm.” Nestor was transported to the GVMC after the arrests and Crookshanks went to the GVMC by private transport.

Prosecutors dropped the battery case against Crookshanks in November 2004, citing the “state no longer had sufficient evidence to prosecute,” according to records obtained at the county courthouse.

Assistant prosecutor Bryan Bragg said Tuesday the case was dismissed because the arresting officer — Nestor — was in Iraq and could not serve as the key witness against Crookshanks.

Ronald Depriest entered a no contest plea to the obstruction charges in May 2004 and paid $190 in court costs and fines. Prosecutors recommended no jail time in the plea.

Ronald Depriest Jr. also pleaded guilty to obstruction charges in 2004 and served one day in jail. He was ordered to pay $390 in court costs and fines.

The case against Jesse Depriest for fleeing while under the influence has been bound over to circuit court and will be presented to a grand jury. Prosecutors cite the absence of arresting officer Nestor — serving in Iraq — for the delay in bringing forth an indictment in the case.

In the lawsuits filed for the family members, Morton is asking the court that Ronald Depriest be awarded $1 million for compensatory damages and $1 million for punitive damages. She is also asking that $1 million be awarded to Crookshanks.

In the lawsuit, a “John Doe” is named who Morton said is a police officer who will be revealed during the discovery process.

— E-mail: cgiggenbach@register-herald.com

React to this story:


Trending Video