DUNBAR, WV (WOWK) — No criminal charges will be filed against a Dunbar police officer who was accused of slamming a man’s head into the pavement, causing his death, according to the Kanawha County Prosecutor’s Office.
13 News was able to obtain the death certificate for 34-year-old Michael Scott Jr. who died two days after the alleged incident on July 22, 2022. The certificate ruled his matter of death a homicide and the cause of death was “blunt force injuries of the head” that occurred “while reportedly resisting arrest.”
One of the family attorney’s Dante’ diTrapino told 13 News on Tuesday that decision will not impact the family’s lawsuit against Dunbar Police and he believes that the U.S. Attorney’s Office may take up the investigation into the police conduct.
The Kanawha County Prosecutor’s Office said they reviewed the case, which included body camera footage and the autopsy when it was handed over to them following the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office investigation.
According to a civil complaint filed in September 2022, Zachary Winters and Adam Mason were attempting to arrest Scott that night for an outstanding warrant for a misdemeanor trespassing charge at the intersection of Park Drive and 10th Street. Winters allegedly lifted Scott off the ground and slammed his head into the pavement.
Jesse Forbes and diTrapano, the attorneys representing the family, said they’ve seen the body camera footage from that night describing what happened as tragic and inhumane.
“This is the most shocking display of indifference and inhumane treatment from the police that I’ve seen in the history of that state of West Virginia,” said Forbes. “There’s nothing worse than what’s happened in this case according to the allegations in this complaint. And this is something where the family is going through an absolute tragedy and there’s no closure until there’s still some level of justice.”
According to the civil complaint, Winters later told officials that Scott was trying to run away at the time; however, Forbes and diTrapano said the footage showed otherwise.
“This is not a situation where he ran from anybody,” Forbes said. “He had his hands cuffed behind his back, he’s standing behind the cruiser, and the officer picked him up and in the officer’s words ‘suplexed him.’ That is not police procedure, that is some WWE wresting move.”
The civil complaint said that after the body slam, Scott’s physical condition began to deteriorate; however, the officers did not take Scott to get medical attention.
Eventually, Scott was taken to the South Central Regional Jail in Charleston, but staffers there refused to take him, the complaint said, because he was not “medically clear or safe to enter the jail.” Per the request of the guards, Scott received medical treatment and was taken to Charleston Area Medical Center, where he died on July 24, 2022.
“In the George Floyd case, that officer had his knee on his neck for nine minutes,” Forbes. “It’s one of the most horrific and inhumane experiences I’ve ever seen and this country has ever seen. That was nine minutes, and these officers had their badges on his neck for hours, hours.”
According to the Dunbar Police Chief in September 2022, Winters was placed on administrative leave following the incident but was reinstated pending the outcome of the criminal investigations. Mason was not placed on administrative leave.