Suspended McDowell County deputies reinstated after hearing - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Suspended McDowell County deputies reinstated after hearing

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A 911 call goes unanswered, and several days later a murder occurs involving those callers.

Two deputies were suspended by the McDowell County Sheriff for allegedly not responding.
But were the two wrongfully disciplined? A Civil Service Board meeting was held, Monday August 19, 2013 to determine just that.
It was unanimous decision by the 3 person civil service board to reinstate Deputy Timothy Vineyard and Deputy Michael Pertee. The board stated the correct disciplinary procedures were not followed. 
"At this point based upon the evidence presented to this board we do agree with the defense council that the polices were not followed,"Philip LaCaria a member of the Civil Service Board said.
A burst of cheers erupted inside the meeting room after the Civil Service Board unanimous reinstated Deputy Michael Pertee and Deputy Timothy Vineyard.  The two had been suspended for allegedly failing to answer a domestic call. The 3 involved in that call would days later be involved in a murder.  

According to officials, Deputies Pertee and Vineyard were called to the home of Donald Baker in Beartown on May 14. Baker stated he and his girlfriend were being threatened by Weslie Payne.  Five days later on May 19, Payne allegedly fatally shot Baker.
LaCaria said he admits the public's best interest was not served on May 14 the night of the 911 call. "I'm not convinced whether or not if the officer would have gone up there that day if it would have changed anything," LaCaria said.

Sheriff Martin West suspended both deputies. But the board found that the Sheriff did not follow the proper disciplinary polices.
"Mr. Pertee was afforded less due process than a criminal gets. A criminal gets the complaint, a warrant, a chance to have a preliminary hearing than a trial. In this situation they were asking me. Pertee to come straight to trial and not even having the evidence right before him," Kathy Brown, Pertee's lawyer stated.
Brown pointed to the Sheriff's Department's policy and procedures to make her claims.  She said the Board should have been notified about the incident, the evidence should have been taken to the board in the form of a hearing and the board should have determined if disciplinary action should have been taken.
59News did speak with the Sheriff and he said he is sticking by his actions.  Sheriff Martin said he believed his actions were justified based on the nature of the misconduct.  But the Sheriff said he will be holding a meeting to get all of the deputies to move forward together He said the deputies would return to duty immediately.
To read the original story about the Beartown murder click here.