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City of Montgomery, W. Virginia Settles With Police Brutality Victims

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While pulling out of a 7-11 parking lot on September 26, 2009, Twan and Lauren Reynolds were stopped by then-Montgomery, W. Virginia police officer, Matthew Leavitt. Leavitt and another officer, Shawn Hutchinson, pulled Lauren from the car, claiming that she was slurring her words, and asked to see her license. Upon seeing her license, Leavitt allegedly saw that Lauren’s license had a St. Albans, W. Virginia address. According to the Reynoldses, Leavitt then stated: “you’re a little St. Albans girl. You haven’t had the privilege of being introduced to the Montgomery police yet.” Twan then started to talk to the two officers, while also trying to calm his daughter, also riding in the vehicle. Leavitt and Hutchinson apparently then pulled Twan from the car and attempted to handcuff him. Twan argued that he had done nothing to warrant arrest, at which time Leavitt pulled out a slapjack and hit Twan in the face. Lauren was also subsequently arrested without explanation.

Since the incident, the city of Montgomery settled with Twan and Lauren for $500,000. Furthermore, on October 22, Leavitt was sentenced to two years in prison for violating the Reynold’s civil rights. He also pleaded guilty to two federal misdemeanors in which he acknowledged that he wrongly arrested Laruen for a DUI and that he beat her husband with a slapjack. Moreover, according to the Reynoldses, their daughter was left in the car while they were arrested and taken away.

The Reynolds’s attorney said that $75,000 of the settlement will go into a fund for the couple’s daughter. While the settlement does not include an admission of guilty, the couple’s attorney argues that the settlement will send a clear message to the town of Montgomery that the incident was wrong and shouldn’t happen again.