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Police Beating of W.Va. Gay Man Result of Corrupt Deal?

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A gay man in West Virginia might have gotten on the wrong side of an alleged deal between a city’s mayor and its police force.

A suspended Parkersburg officer accused of beating a drunken suspect claims that Mayor Bob Newell encouraged police to beat belligerent suspects badly enough to put them in the hospital.

One 2009 incident involved a gay Parkersburg man who said Deuley and two other officers used homosexual slurs while beating him in his backyard after a neighbor complained he’d been driving too fast.

The city agreed to settle that case for $100,000 but denied officers did anything wrong.

The Charleston Gazette says the allegation is detailed in a document that Officer Nathan Deuley filed as part of a lawsuit against the city.

Deuley contends that Newell and Parkersburg Police Chief Joseph Martin have refused to reinstate him as a full-time officer because he blew the whistle on department policies.

Newell, a former police chief, dismissed Deuley’s accusations as a tactic to intimidate city officials and win his job back.

“He can make all the threats he needs to,” Newell said. “That’s not going to happen.”

In November, Newell said he’d asked the FBI to investigate whether police violated the civil rights of two people who were arrested. An FBI official in Charleston confirmed the agency is looking into the arrests of Jerry Seabolt and Terry Ratliff.

Deuley had charged Ratliff with public intoxication after Ratliff urinated in a parking lot.

Ratliff claims he was subjected to unnecessary or unreasonable force there, then assaulted again in the police station parking lot while in handcuffs and a third time while shackled to a bed at Camden Clark Medical Center.

But Deuley claims the mayor encouraged beatings during an assembly of officers, complaining that he was tired of “small, frivolous complaints” about the department.

“He advised the officers to the effect that if they were in a scuffle to ‘beat their ass and put them in the hospital,’ ” Deuley said.

Newell also promised that “he would ‘handle’ the insurance companies” if claims arose, Deuley said.

Deuley was named as a defendant in two police brutality lawsuits that were settled out of court for a combined $170,000.

In the other case, Ratliff was paid $70,000 after claims that six officers assaulted him in 2008.

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