Members of the West Virginia State Police Special Response Team serving an arrest warrant shot an unarmed Black man as he slept on a couch, his lawyer alleges.
Troopers shot 22-year-old Darius Lester on March 10 in Big Sandy, West Virginia. However, law enforcement’s account of the shooting contradicts documents and evidence from the scene, according to attorney John Bryan.
The shooting happened around 5:45 a.m. at 1536 Loop Seven Highway. Lester was not the subject of the search warrant, and worse yet, the West Virginia State Police claimed in the police report that he attacked SRT members with a hammer.
“Upon entry, members were confronted by Darius Lester, 22 of Big Sandy, who was armed and attempted to attack the members with a hammer,” read the police report. “Members engaged the suspect and shots were fired stopping the threat.”
According to WVVA News, the outlet immediately received “an outpouring of messages” alleging that Lester was sleeping when he was shot and the police lied about him attacking them with a hammer. Photograph evidence of the bloody couch seems to confirm Lester was lying on the couch when he was shot. He was later taken to the Raleigh General Hospital for treatment of two gunshot wounds to the chest and charged with a felony.
Darius Lester’s attorney, Bryan, took a video of the crime scene and says that the evidence at the scene casts doubt about the police account of Lester attacking them with a hammer.
“If you look at the house where they actually encountered him, they had to walk quite a ways from the front door into the kitchen and take a right sort of around a blind corner to where they encountered him,” said Bryan. “I don’t have any doubt they surprised him on that couch. … The photographs of the blood stains show where the violence occurred – right on the bed/couch where Darius had been sleeping.”
Lester works as a coal truck driver and had just gotten off his shift before he fell asleep on his uncle’s couch at around 4 a.m. He has no criminal record, nor does his uncle, Jeremy Lester, for whom the search warrant was executed. The police were reportedly serving a search warrant alleging Jeremy Lester downloaded and was in possession of child pornography.
Bryan also implied the West Virginia State Police have a corruption problem and noted an ongoing investigation prompted by a whistleblower. Some of the allegations include the misuse of federal and state funds, secret unauthorized personal purchases and fraud. Bryan also suggested that the nature of the search warrant would ensure nobody would care what happened during the search.
WVVA News contacted the West Virginia State Police SRT Department to question if the unit was wearing body cameras. The man they spoke with would not give his name and said he did not know if SRT wears body cameras.
Lester is scheduled to appear in court on March 30 for felony charges. His mother, Holly Cline, said that she wants justice for her son.
“We want justice for Darius Lester. He was shot by West Virginia Police State Troopers on a search warrant that we feel should have been handled differently,” said Cline. “He shouldn’t be laying up with bullet holes in him. He’s a good kid. He was working hauling coal all night. He came home, went to sleep and they busted in on him.”
One thought on “‘They Busted In On Him’: Attorney Says Crime Scene Photos Show West Virginia SWAT Team Shot Innocent Black Man Sleeping on Couch; Cops Claim He Charged Them with Hammer”
Next time before you report on a fucking officer involved shooting (Weather it be officers being fired on or officers opening fire first) wait for the fucking bodycam footage, it will prove/disprove a lot.