WESTOVER, W.Va. – The controversy surrounding the City of Westover and its police department was a major topic of conversation at Monday night’s City Council meeting, following the public release of a Septemeber 2020 audio recording that involved former police chief Richard Panico, former interim police chief John Morgan, City Attorney Tim Stranko and City Councilman Steve Andryzcik.
In that recording, the police officials detail concerns about Mayor Dave Johnson and Lt. Aaron Dalton, who has since been named in two federal civil rights lawsuits.
During the public comment period of Monday’s council meeting, a citizen called for an independent investigation of the city. The citizen’s allotted time ran out before he was finished speaking and Mayor Johnson ended the person’s speech, which can be seen below:
The first of the aforementioned federal lawsuits was filed on behalf of Westover resident Andre Howton, who claimed that Dalton and another officer pulled him out of his home and beat him during an arrest. After that suit was filed, Monongalia County Delegate Danielle Walker led a demonstration, in Westover, in support of Howton.
On the audio recording, City Attorney Tim Stranko refers to Walker as a “b*tch.” Walker addressed the issue at Monday’s meeting. “What I don’t need is a ‘Hello Delegate Walker…nice to see you here today,’ when you are actually calling me a derogatory term. I am a mother and you have a mother. If you don’t have a wife or daughters, you have some female and I’m sure you wouldn’t want that person to be called that. Do better City of Westover, because your residents deserve better,” Walker said, in part. Her full comments can be seen below:
After the meeting, Stranko, the City Attorney apologized to Walker. You can watch their exchange below:
City Councilman Ralph Mullins also voiced his displeasure with what he heard on the recording. Mullins’ full comments are below: