CHARLESTON — Neither a Logan County man who said a former Logan city police officer excessively beat him in 2018 nor the officer himself walked away from a three-day trial with compensation for their troubles last week.
A federal jury on Friday found that Joshua “J.D.” Tincher didn’t use excessive force against Frank Morgan, nor did the jury find that Tincher experienced any pain, suffering or mental anguish when he took Morgan into custody while on duty on April 20, 2018.
The jury also found Tincher and another Logan police officer, Kevin Conley, who assisted in Morgan’s arrest, likewise had not committed battery against Morgan, nor did they assault him while he was in their custody at Logan City Hall or delay Morgan receiving medical care.
Friday’s verdict came after three days of witness testimony and other evidence presented before U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston in Charleston.
In a statement after the trial, Wendy Greve, who represented Tincher and Conley said civil rights cases are never easy.
“This verdict confirms that jurors can and do see that our law enforcement personnel are important members of the public dedicated to protecting the public,” Greve said.
Kerry Nessel, lead counsel for Morgan, wasn’t available for comment Monday.
Morgan, 46, filed suit on Nov. 16, 2018, against Tincher, Conley, and seven other defendants, claiming Tincher and Conley beat him with their police-issued batons and pepper sprayed him on April 20, 2018.
The officers were responding to a report that there was a man masturbating on Stratton Street in Logan.
Tincher said in court he did not actually see Morgan masturbating. When he and Conley arrived, he said, Morgan was in boxers, with his hand allegedly on “his private parts.”
Tincher testified that Morgan didn’t comply with demands to get on the ground, and Morgan testified he tried to explain to the officers he couldn’t get on the ground due to a hernia.
Logan County Sheriff’s Deputy Barry Mynes Jr., who also testified in the matter, responded to a call for backup from Tincher and Conley and tackled Morgan into a cement wall. Mynes, Tincher and Conley put Morgan in handcuffs.
Morgan’s ex-fiance, Marissa Hudson, was present at the scene.
Tincher said, Hudson jumped on Conley’s back at one point, and that, as he went to contain and handcuff her, Morgan punched him in the face, giving him a black eye. That punch was the basis of Tincher’s unsuccessful counterclaim against Morgan.
Morgan denied hitting anyone.
Morgan also said Tincher assaulted him in a back room in Logan City Hall while his hands were restrained behind him. He said he was hit, kicked and struck with a metal pipe.
During the trial, Tincher testified that Morgan injured his head after he lunged, uncuffed, at Tincher, who responded by performing a “leg sweep” that caused Morgan to fall back and hit his head on a table in city hall.
Logan Police Department Cpl. Coty Crum testified that he was initially in the back room with Tincher and Morgan and witnessed the leg sweep. He said he left to call an ambulance when it seemed that Morgan was unconscious.
During the trial, Morgan testified he was treated for a broken arm and more than a dozen cuts and bruises across his body. He said doctors placed seven staples in the back of his head.
Morgan remains incarcerated at Southwestern Regional Jail, according to the West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority website.
In addition to Tincher and Conley, Morgan filed the lawsuit against Logan County sheriff’s deputies Mynes, Joey Shepard, Nick Tucker, along with Logan County Sheriff Sonya Dingess-Porter, the Logan County Commission, the City of Logan, Logan Police Chief P.D. Clemens and other unnamed officers and deputies.
By the time the trial started, only Tincher, Conley, and Mynes remained as defendants. Johnston dismissed Mynes as a defendant during the second day of the trial.
Tincher is accused in two other lawsuits of using excessive force while he was a Logan police officer. Mynes, dismissed from the Frank Morgan lawsuit, also is named as a defendant in one of the lawsuits.
Tincher now works as a Mingo County Sheriff’s deputy.