MPD Captain raises issue with bond set by magistrate – Yahoo News

Nov. 7—For the second time this year, police have a complaint about a bond set by Magistrate Todd Gaujot.

Capt. Matt Solomon of the Morgantown Police Department reached out to The Dominion Post with concerns after Gaujot set bond for a 33-year-old Granville man charged with three counts of battery on an officer, trespassing and obstructing an officer at $1, 000 cash or surety—or $100 paid by a bond service.

When contacted by The Dominion Post, Gaujot said he did not wish to comment on the complaint. If the complaint was reasonable, “let’s send it up the ladder ” and deal with that way instead of through the newspaper, he said.

Solomon explained his reasons for questioning the bond.

“For somebody that was causing a problem to the general public by refusing to leave the business establishment and being very aggressive and uncooperative in the first place, and then deciding to fight three police officers for a period of time, not just for a moment or two in simple resistance—’don’t handcuff me’—but refusing to leave at the scene, ” Solomon said. “Lunging at one of the officers, wrestling with the three officers, had to actually be tased in order for him to put his hands behind his back to get cuffed, refusing to get into the police car, hooking his leg or foot around the door, part of the vehicle to not get in.”

Solomon said the man also fought with officers while being processed at the sheriff’s office.

“Thank goodness nobody was really hurt, ” he said. “They were scuffed up, but this person was obviously being very antisocial and $1, 000 bond for him, as opposed to a $3, 000 bond, which would be $300, for somebody to pay a bail bondsman for basically a drunken mistake.”

The “drunken mistake ” as Solomon put it, refers to a 21-year-old Weirton man who is charged with obstructing an officer, destruction of property, and attempted escape.

Both men were arrested within hours of each other over Halloween weekend. Gaujot arraigned the 21-year-old and set bond at $3, 000 cash or surety. Solomon said in the 21-year-old’s case, his bond makes sense because it’s $1, 000 a charge.

The 21-year-old is accused of fighting with Code employees, then running from police before being caught, taken to the ground and arrested. He then ran through the door while being processed at the MPD’s building and was caught again in the next room.

Solomon said the 21-year-old was not aggressive with officers, whereas the 33-year-old was—repeatedly.

Solomon said to him, there is a big discrepancy between the bonds. One could be labeled as a young person making a mistake while the other person chose to fight with multiple officers multiple times.

“It just leads me to believe that there’s a thought process, going into how these bonds are set by this magistrate that it doesn’t set well with the citizens of our community and the criminal justice system of our community, ” Solomon said.

“The example is not being set as to what can be considered a mistake, or what can be considered wrong behavior.”

Solomon said he was speaking for himself—a police officer in the community for 25 years—as well as his officers and all the officers in the community.

“My goal is to let the public realize that it doesn’t seem to me that the public’s best interest is being kept in mind when these bonds are set, ” he said.

Solomon said he knows bond is intended to make sure someone returns to court, but it’s also a tool to keep someone from causing more problems in the community or someone dangerous from potentially hurting someone else.

“It’s not a punishment, ” Solomon said. “I know that. But it’s also a tool that’s not being used right in these circumstances.”

Solomon said he has not spoken with Gaujot about his issue with the bond, however he would be willing to do so.

“That would be an avenue to take, ” Solomon said. “But my opinion would be I would have expected the lesson to have been learned after the Westover incident.”

The “Westover incident ” refers to a July case in which Gaujot released a man accused of destroying the windshields of five Westover Police cruisers and kicking in the glass of two doors at city hall on a personal recognizance bond.

At the time, Westover Police Chief Joe Adams said the decision was “disappointing.”

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