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‘We Have a Unique Situation’: Court Dismisses Charges Against Black Man Who Was Allegedly Shot By Cops While Sleeping on Couch; Troopers Claimed He Had a Hammer, But Those Called to Testify Weren’t Even Involved

A Black man accused of wielding a hammer at West Virginia State police before they shot him has been vindicated after felony charges against him have been dropped.

Lawyer Ryan Flannigan alleges that members of the West Virginia State Police Special Response Team shot Darius Lester while he was sleeping on a couch during an arrest warrant operation.

 The incident occurred on March 10 in Big Sandy, West Virginia. Lester, a coal truck driver, had finished his shift and fallen asleep on his uncle’s couch around 4 a.m. 

Darius Lester
Darius Lester was shot as he slept on a couch by the West Virginia State Police troopers on March 10, 2023. (Photo: John H. Bryan)

The search warrant was reportedly related to allegations of his uncle, Jeremy Lester, downloading and possessing child pornography.

According to the police report, officers claimed that upon entry, they were confronted by Lester, who allegedly attacked them with a hammer. They stated that the shots were fired while Lester held it in “striking position.” He was subsequently taken to the hospital for treatment of two gunshot wounds to the chest and charged with a felony.

Lester maintains that he was abruptly awakened in a room a distance from the front door by armed cops, denying he made any attempt to harm the officers involved. 

However, during the legal proceedings, two witnesses were called upon to support the state’s case, but his lawyer argued that neither of these witnesses was present at the scene during the incident.

“Here we have a unique situation in that Trooper Saddler, who has been called here to testify on behalf of the state has absolutely no knowledge about the events that occurred in this case. He is basing everything that he knows about this based on a Trooper Yeager. And Trooper Yeager, as Trooper Saddler testified to, wasn’t involved in what happened that day,” Flannigan said.

Following the presentation of evidence, McDowell County Magistrate VanDyke concluded that the evidence presented was insufficient to warrant official charges against Lester. The magistrate said, however, that if the state could provide firsthand evidence they could potentially pursue charges at a later time.

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