Misdemeanor battery charges against Del. Mike Caputo, D-Marion, for an incident that happened toward the end of the last legislative session were dismissed on Monday, Jan. 27.
Almost a year ago Caputo, now a candidate for state Senate, kicked open House chamber doors, allegedly injuring a doorkeeper on the other side.
When he admitted to the incident shortly after it happened in March, Caputo told reporters he had been bothered by an anti-Muslim display outside the chambers.
Caputo’s attorney requested in December that a Kanawha County magistrate dismiss the charges, which were filed by the Capitol police in September. The lawmaker’s attorney argued that Caputo was entitled to legislative immunity.
According to state code, lawmakers are allowed such immunity — from civil and criminal prosecution — while the Legislature is in session.
“[The] defendant was trying to enter the House chamber in an effort to carry out his privileges as a member of the House of Delegates,” Judge Tod Kaufman wrote Monday in Kanawha County Circuit Court. “Because this legislative act committed within the legislative sphere is statutorily protected activity, defendant cannot be prosecuted criminally and will be shielded from the issuance of extraordinary writs with respect to his legislative acts.”
The Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, which leads the Capitol Police, did not respond immediately to a request for comment Monday evening, nor did the prosecutor’s office.
Caputo, who was absent from the House floor Monday morning, said in a typed statement that day he was pleased by the news.
“I hope this matter is finally over,” Caputo said. “I apologized before, both to the House publicly and the young man personally, and I’m still sorry for my actions. But I can say without reservation that I had no intention of hurting anyone.”
Emily Allen is a Report for America corps member.