BERWIND, WV (WVNS)–A civil lawsuit is filed in federal court against the McDowell County sheriff’s deputies.
In the suit, two deputies are accused of multiple civil rights violations, racial profiling, and harassment among other claims.
The claims stem from an incident that reportedly happened on Friday, August 7th, 2020 in the Berwind area of McDowell County.
According to a criminal complaint obtained by 59 News, deputies Dalton Martin and Jordon Horn went to a property on Baptist Drive looking for marijuana growth.
The complaint said the deputies found plants growing 50 feet from the property Donnie and Ventriss Hairston were living on, growing near an abandoned church.
In the civil suit, lawyers claim the deputies accused the Hairstons of growing the plants which they said is not true. Donnie Hairston said he and his wife were traumatized by the situation.
They said the deputies became belligerent and disrespectful.
“He told me to go inside again and I just stood there. And then he shoved me through the door and stepped in then closed the door, and I’m like this ain’t right,” Hairston said.
The property the Hairstons live on belongs to Jason Tartt. Tartt told 59News he was notified of the situation by the Hairston’s and he walked over to tell the deputies he owned the properties.
The lawsuit said the plants were located in an overgrown bush at a property not owned by Tartt – but by a third party. After words were exchanged, it was reported Deputies Martin and Horn arrested Tartt for Obstructing an Officer.
Tartt said he felt disheartened by the whole situation.
“I can’t begin to tell you how that made me feel, some young kid standing behind me looking at my behind, I got kids older than you. I’ve served this country, I’ve done everything that’s been asked of me, I’m still serving my community and I had to go through something like that for no reason only because that kid felt like it,” Tartt said.
Tartt said he thinks more awareness training can help fix key mistakes he believes law enforcement makes and that’s why he and the Hairstons filed the suit, to spark noticeable change.
“Diversity training would be the biggest thing that I would recommend is diversity training and making sure they have a diverse police force. And I think that would go a long way in eliminating some of these problems,” Tartt said.