Over the weekend news began circulating about a man who died while in police custody after allegedly being arrested in Lewis County. According to family members, the deceased was David Smith, 59, of Orlando.
News of the incident first began to spread on social media by family and friends of Smith. In a public post to Facebook made by Tyauna Bonnell on Nov. 16, it was stated that Smith passed away after being taken into police custody on Nov. 14. Along with Bonnell’s allegations, highly graphic photos were also posted of Smith before he passed away.
Bonnell originally posted that it was the Weston City Police Department that was involved in the incident, however, City Police Chief Josh Thomas quickly released a public statement saying that his office was not involved.
“It has come to the attention of the Weston Police Department that various members of Facebook have been circulating a false story,” Weston Police Department’s Facebook post states. “Specifically, one of these has been originated by Tyauna Bonnell and makes allegations that a member(s) of the Weston Police Department has harmed Mr. Smith. While I cannot speak on the specifics concerning this at this time, I can say that this does not involve the Weston Police Department, and more specifically does not involve Sgt. Riddle. We would ask anyone circulating such false stories to please remove such information at this time as they do not contain information that is even remotely factual. Again, I cannot comment further at this time because this is a situation that does not involve the Weston Police Department.”
Bonnell’s post was edited to remove allegations against officer Riddle within an hour of its initial posting.
According to family members, the circumstances of Smith’s death are being investigated by the West Virginia State Police.
The Weston Democrat has made numerous attempts to contact both the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department and West Virginia State Police to get more information.
Attempts to contact them have been unsuccessful, with office personnel citing authorities were unavailable for interview because of the holiday break or were otherwise on duty.
By press time, no messages requesting information were returned. No press release has been issued at the time of The Weston Democrat’s press deadline, which was early due to the holiday.
After looking into Smith’s background history it was discovered that he has had multiple different criminal charges in the county in prior years, including two for obstructing an officer, operating a clandestine drug lab, DUI 2nd offense, possession of controlled substance and leaving the scene of an accident. The most recent arrest available on public record within the county was a charge for obstructing an officer that took place in December, 2015.
The Weston Democrat will continue to reach out to officials for information. More updates will follow as information becomes available. Check future editions or visit
www.westondemocrat.com for the latest updates.