WESTOVER, W.Va — An investigation by Caracal Reports has found that two West Virginia police officers facing a lawsuit following a 2019 altercation violated the official Use of Force policy laid out in their department’s policy and procedures, contradicting a public statement from their police chief. The city and it’s police department also attempted to prevent release of the body camera footage to an attorney.
In January 2019, former Westover (W.Va.) resident Andrew Howton was pulled from his home and beaten by Westover Police Department (WPD) officer Zachary Fecsko, and the incident was captured on fellow officer Aaron Dalton’s body camera. The lawsuit alleges Westover Police Chief Richard Panico “publicly condoned the other Defendants’ behavior and stated that it was aligned with the Westover Police Department (WPD) policies,” according to local media sources.
In addition, the encounter isn’t the department’s first brush with excessive use of force or police
misconduct, with investigation yielding previous instances, including one involving current Police Chief Panico. This history and the current lawsuit have raised questions among the community if the persisting problem exists inside the WPD.