Randy Yohe Published

Justice, Staff Say State Police Probe Will Intensify

A photo of the West Virginia state flag.
The West Virginia state flag.
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Gov. Jim Justice said Wednesday that public statements made by resigned State Police Superintendent Jan Cahill that he was blindsided by the investigation and he followed protocol across the board are false.

“It holds credence that we discussed those claims in my driveway,” Justice said. “Beyond that, I don’t have any earthly idea how it holds any credence.”

Cahill spoke Tuesday on MetroNews Talkline. The former Greenbrier County Sheriff, who Justice appointed to lead the State Police in 2017, said his role in multiple State Police wrongdoing investigations were misrepresented or distorted. 

Cahill said he took no action on a video camera installed in the State Police Academy’s women’s locker room showers because the perpetrator was dead when he found out about the incident and that it happened before his tenure. He said that the one woman caught on video tape wanted the matter closed, a thumb drive with the video was destroyed, so, there was no perpetrator, no evidence, no accuser, no victim and no required action   

Cahill made the public statement that a senior trooper caught on camera taking an envelope of money dropped by a patron out of the Mardi Gras Casino was exonerated by casino and lottery investigators. He said that he couldn’t fire the trooper because he retired after the incident. Cahill questioned whether the money was allegedly stolen, saying he “picked up unclaimed property.” 

Justice said the trooper money grab was stealing, pure and simple. 

“This is not somebody stealing copper out of the lines way back up Whoo Hoo Hollow, this is a police officer stealing money,” he said. 

In the briefing, Justice’s Chief of Staff, Brian Abraham, questioned Cahill’s leadership abilities. 

“The only way you maintain your credibility is through the integrity you demonstrate and then being transparent,” Abraham said. “It appears that all efforts were taken down there to try to keep things from people that were not good news, keeping it concealed in an effort not to demean their reputation. He did not understand the roles and responsibilities associated with being the superintendent of the State Police.”

Abraham said Cahill mishandled the women’s locker room camera probe.

“When he became aware in 2020 that there’d been a videotape involving members of his staff, even though one was deceased, there were others that destroyed key and relevant evidence, yet suffered no investigation or any discipline for that misconduct,” Abraham said.

Abraham said Cahill shirked his duties in not firing a senior trooper who allegedly stole money at the Mardi Gras Casino, noting both legal precedent and state code shows Cahill had complete authority to dismiss the trooper.

“With regard to the incident at Mardi Gras he indicated that he didn’t have the authority to terminate the trooper for misconduct and that that absolutely is not correct,” he said.

Abraham refuted Cahill’s claim that he was the fall guy and victim of vendettas.

“Colonel Chambers has now taken over,” Abraham said. “He’s resolved to have matters reinvestigated and determine whether there was misconduct.” 

Abraham said investigations into old and new State Police misconduct charges would be reopened, continued or commenced. 

Newly appointed interim State Police Superintendent Lt. Col. Jack Chambers said in the briefing there are multiple things going on that will be addressed, including personnel.

“I’m going to look at every position that is disappointing in the State Police and evaluate those,” Chambers said. “I have to get some information from everybody first, but I can’t give you a timetable.” 

Abraham said several matters have been turned over to federal authorities.