KEARNEYSVILLE, W.Va.—An Eastern Panhandle sheriff accused of beating a robbery suspect said the only thing he’s guilty of is protecting himself and citizens.
Jefferson County Sheriff Robert Shirley said he’s looking forward to his day in court.
“You can indict a ham sandwich. An indictment is an accusation is what it is,” Shirley said.
He made the comments Thursday during the sheriff’s department’s monthly public meeting, The Journal reported.
“There’s two sides to the story, and there’s a whole lot more to the story. I look forward to my day in court for the truth to get out instead of everybody’s opinion,” Shirley said.
Shirley, 60, was indicted earlier this month on federal charges of violating the civil rights of Mark Daniel Haines in December 2010. He’s also charged with falsifying records during an investigation of the incident. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The indictment came a week after Haines, a Harpers Ferry man serving a prison sentence for bank robbery, sued Shirley and 14 unidentified law-enforcement officers. Haines claims the officers beat him severely after a failed bank robbery and vehicle chase.
Shirley has denied the lawsuit’s allegations.
“It’s a political year and it’s easy to be the Monday night quarterback on somebody who wasn’t in a 120 mph pursuit,” said Shirley, who is seeking re-election this fall.
“Other things happened later that I won’t go into, but your life is in the line right there. I think of the funerals that I’ve been to of police officers that hesitated.
“I don’t know who I’m dealing with or what he’s got. I know he said he had a gun. I know I thought I saw a gun. You take it from there,” Shirley said. “I was working that day. I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve done.”
Shirley’s trial on the criminal charges is set for Aug. 7.