Julia Roberts Goad
CHARLESTON - Rulings were made in Charleston this week in a lawsuit against the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department and the Mingo County Commission .
Arvil Runyon, 58, of Varney, sued the MCSD, MCC and then-sheriff Lonnie Hannah, Sgt. Joe Smith and Dep. Michael Miller. He claimed negligent training of law enforcement as to handling disabled arrestees, excessive force by law enforcement and that he was not accommodated for a handicap as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The incident took place in February of 2012, when Runyon contacted Hannah about a vehicle which had been impounded by the sheriff’s department while being used by his son. Hannah told him in order to retrieve the vehicle, he would need to come to the sheriff’s office located on the first floor of the courthouse and speak to Chief Field Deputy James Smith to obtain the keys, the suit said.
Runyon, who is disabled and walks with the use of a cane, said when he went to the sheriff’s office, he was told by Hannah that neither he nor anyone in the office had the keys to the vehicle.
After a brief exchange of words between him and Hannah, Runyon said he attempted to leave
Court documents say Runyon claimed Sgt. Smith “forcibly escorted” him to the door, took his cane and “dragged down the hallway” by members of the Sheriff’s Department. He claimed he was abused.
However, the defendants in the case said Runyon cursed them, refused requests to leave the courthouse, and continued a tirade until Sgt. Smith arrested him for profanity, swearing and obstructing an officer. Runyon was forced to the ground and put in handcuffs.
After his arrest, Runyon had to be arraigned before a magistrate on the third floor the Memorial Building. Runyon was provided a wheelchair to go from the Courthouse to the Memorial Building. However, the elevator in the Memorial Building was out of order. Smith and Miller said they offered to have Runyon arraigned in the basement, but that he refused, saying he could use the staircase with assistance.
Runyon’s lawsuit claimed he was not offered an alternative to going to the third floor, and that instead of helping him up the stairs, Miller and Smith kicked and pushed him as he went up to the third floor. Miller and Smith claimed Runyon went to the third floor without incident.
Runyon pled guilty to battery of an officer.
Last week, U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver dismissed the claims of negligent training and excessive force.
A trial to prove the claims of ADA violations is scheduled for June 18.