WESTOVER, W.Va. – Residents of Westover and surrounding areas gathered at the council chambers to discuss the most recent video that surfaced the internet, concerning the brutal beating of Andre Howton that is now at the forefront of a federal lawsuit.
According to the suit, an officer pulled Howton, a Black man in his 50’s, from his home and beat him in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2019.
“When I found out when the city council meeting was going to be, I made a post on Facebook and the call to action was to call the City of Westover, let them know what your concerns is and show up at the meeting,” explained Delegate Danielle Walker (WV-D) of District 51.
Individuals expressed their concerns and fears about the video and the lawsuit. One person even described that he was afraid of inviting his African American friends into his home, in case the police were near by.
“To hear that residents in Westover has been mistreated by some of the officers in question is concerning,” said Delegate Walker. “To have a council and a mayor remain silent because it is in litigation but what happened a year and a half ago.”
Westover First Ward City Council member, Ralph Mullins, stated the council learned all of their information through the internet and the press.
“Being a representative, I feel partially culpable that this situation has occurred,” Mullins emphasized. “At the end of the day, city council has the responsibility at the end of the day for the financial well-being of Westover.”
Mullins stated that it, “it broke his heart,” seeing something like this in a city where he was born and raised.
Many of the citizens of Westover are looking for change in their town, including local Alli Jackson, who explained in the meeting how that he is concerned was life.
“We need some change. I hear people talking about de-fund the police and I think that’s absurd, but I absolutely believe we need police reform,” Mullins explained.
“Human Rights, Civil Rights, Social Justice is needed,” Delegate Walker mentioned. “It will be demanded, we will no longer go back. We have many bridges to cross and we will continue to cross them. One step at a time in unity and solidarity.”
More information about the lawsuit can be found by clicking here and the body cam video can be watched below.
12 News has reached out to the Westover Police Department but has not yet heard back.