Investigation into the state police continues

West Virginia State Police image.

CHARLESTON, W. Va.–Gov. Jim Justice said multi-layered investigations of the State Police are continuing, and administration officials confirmed that some high-ranking troopers have been bumped to new positions.

Justice and administration officials said no one has been fired at this point, although the longtime superintendent abruptly resigned last week.

“We had some things that are just so off the chart and it’s just unbelievable, conduct that we absolutely can’t have,” Justice said during a briefing. “We’re trying with all in us, and we’ll get to the very bottom of it. And we’ll absolutely cleanse the best we possibly can.”

Last week, the governor said the inquiries involved video recordings in a State Police women’s locker room several years ago, the more recent destruction of a hard drive where some of those recordings had been stored, an inquiry over a trooper who walked away with an envelope of money at a casino, and an active investigation over a death along Interstate 81 involving troopers.

Today, at a briefing, officials with the administration also generally described an investigation over rape allegations involving a trooper.

In that case, a woman’s lawyer has said she intends to sue over allegations that she was drugged, kidnapped and raped by a trooper in December, 2021.

“In regard to the alleged rapes that have happened, and everything, the FBI has total investigation of that at this time,” Justice said today.

Justice said the allegation is against one trooper but “maybe multiple rapes.”

The investigations of the other issues are continuing too, with acting Superintendent Jack Chambers describing some personnel changes since he assumed that role last week.

Jim Mitchell has been promoted to a chief of staff role that will include responding to media questions, Chambers said.

Shallon Oglesby has been moved from chief of staff services at State Police headquarters to the procurement section and will now serve as a first lieutenant rather than the previous rank of major. James Findley has been moved from the professional standards division to the West Virginia Turnpike, where he will also serve as a first lieutenant, rather than as a major.

“I am reviewing several appointed positions, people that are in appointed positions, but to be honest with you I’m going to have to put a little more time into it,” Chambers said.

Chambers said the examination of what happened with a trooper who walked off with an envelope of money left on a seat by a casino patron is still underway. “It’s still active, and it’s coming somewhat to a close,” he said. “It’s getting closer.”

On the examination of a video recording device placed in a locker room around 2015, Justice summarized: “For all we know 10 days ago, was there was a thumb drive, there was a video tape made, we don’t know how many people have been filmed. It was told and represented to us that only one person had been filmed. I don’t buy that, but I can’t dispute that until we get to the bottom of an investigation.”

A Wheeling attorney has notified state officials of intent to sue on behalf of women who used the locker room and whose images might have been captured by the recording device.

And regarding an investigation into the death of a citizen during a confrontation with troopers near Martinsburg, Justice said he viewed bodycam footage. “To be perfectly honest, concerning to say the least,” Justice said.

But, he said, “You’ve got a trooper, in the dark, with somebody walking down the interstate — which they shouldn’t be there at all. But somebody’s walking down the interstate and a trooper in the dark with traffic flying by at 80 miles an hour. Now granted, these people are supposed to be trained to be able to handle all this.”

Justice said local prosecutors have asked for video not to be released right now, but the governor said the video should be released in the future.

“I promise you the situation on I-81 does not look good,” he said. “That’s all there is to it.”