Parkersburg Police Officer On Leave Following Altercation

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A Parkersburg Police officer is on paid administrative leave, after an altercation with a suspect at the Wood County Holding Facility.

Mayor Robert Newell says that Sgt. J. A. Vensel was placed on leave and will remain there until an internal investigation of the incident is finished. Vensel has been with the police department for several years. The Mayor also identified the other party in the incident as being 40 year-old Jerry Seabolt.

Police Chief Joe Martin says he has viewed a video of the alleged incident, adding that the incident was not included in Sgt. Vensel's Saturday night report, as it should have been.

The alleged incident took place Saturday night as Seabolt was being processed into the Holding Facility, located on Second Street. According to the Wood County Magistrate’s office, Seabolt had been arrested by Parkersburg police on charges of battery and public intoxication and is also now facing a charge of obstruction. He is out on bond and will appear in Wood County magistrate court at a later date.

Prosecutor Jason Wharton says he contacted the superintendent of the West Virginia State Police to ask that a state policeman from outside the area do an investigation of the incident. Wharton says that officer has been in Wood County today conducting that investigation. Wharton would not speculate on when that investigation would be completed.

Chief Joe Martin says that Seabolt was taken to a Parkersburg hospital after the alleged incident but was not admitted and was then taken to Magistrate Court for his appearance, where he was later released.

Sheriff Sandy would not confirm whether there was any video of the alleged incident, but he told WTAP News that, “almost everything that goes on there is videoed.”

Sandy stressed that a person who is being processed into the Holding Facility is not officially in the County’s custody, until that processing has been completed and the person has been medically cleared for admittance. The person remains in the custody of the arresting officers until that time. Sandy also said his department contacted the prosecutor and also contacted the Parkersburg Police Department after the incident, as it does in all such incidents.

Chief Martin says he has viewed a video of the alleged incident. Martin said he first learned about the incident in a phone call from Wood County Sheriff Jeff Sandy on Monday afternoon. Sandy says he contacted both Martin and the Prosecutor upon learning about the incident.

Chief Martin said that he informed Vensel that he would be placed on administrative leave, both in person and in writing. Martin said that Vensel will not have the use of his police cruiser or his police weapon while he is on leave.