Attorney posts video alleging Putnam County deputies violated a person’s 4th Amendment rights


PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WOWK) – A video has surfaced of what appears to be Putnam County deputies entering a person’s home without a search warrant, while the owner wasn’t home. The attorney representing that person alleges the deputies have done even more than that.

On the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, the person who resided in a home in Putnam County had no idea law enforcement would be making their way inside. West Virginia civil rights attorney John H. Bryan posted the video to YouTube Wednesday, Jan. 15, alleging deputies with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department cut the cords to the video surveillance of the person’s home.

Then, the attorney says, deputies crawled through a window and began to go through the owner’s belongings – without a warrant, while the owner was at work.

But officers missed two of the cameras – one outside and one inside – and that’s how the incident made its way to social media.

“It’s something you’d see on Netflix,” Bryan said. “I would believe it if I didn’t see it and I’ve never seen any kind of video like this that was this brazen.”

Brazen enough, the attorney says, to take the owner’s friend’s ashes and put them in a drug testing field kit which as found later, with ashes and bones still in it, in the front yard.

Bryan also says neighbors called the person who lives in the home while asking deputies what was going on. Bryan says they were told the deputies where there to serve an eviction summons, but he says that’s a civil matter and not something law enforcement does.

Putnam County Sheriff Steve Deweese gave the following written statement Friday morning.

“I cannot comment at this time due to a personal issue within the department. The internal investigation into the video was ordered by myself yesterday.” – Sheriff Deweese

Bryan sent a freedom of information request to the sheriff’s department and found no documentation of the incident.

As the sheriff’s internal investigation begins, Bryan says his continues. He says more cases are emerging since the release of the video.

“What we’re waiting for is evidence of other incidents to find out if this is actually a pattern or practice that they’ve engaged in there,” Bryan said.

The person living there was never evicted, but also never went back to the home other than to get belongings.

The attorney says he does plan to file a civil rights complaint in federal court.

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