Wheeling officer facing charges

WHEELING — Defense lawyers contend a video and audio recording will help exonerate Wheeling police officer Jacob Skinner on a felony charge of malicious assault.

Skinner was arrested Tuesday and arraigned by Ohio County Magistrate Charles Murphy.

He posted $5,000 bond.

Wheeling attorney Robert G. McCoid said Thursday that he and co-counsel Joseph J. John are confident Skinner “will be fully vindicated after a thorough and complete airing of all of the facts.”

The Ohio County Sheriff’s Department filed the charge based on a complaint made by Skinner’s ex-girlfriend. She alleged the incident took place Saturday night at Skinner’s Wheeling residence.

McCoid said he expects a special prosecutor will be appointed to handle the case. He anticipates Ohio County Prosecutor Scott Smith and his staff will recuse themselves from the matter because it involves a city police officer.

In a statement issued Thursday, McCoid said, “While a jury will ultimately resolve the question concerning the validity of the allegations, what is indisputable is the Patrolman Skinner, a decorated police officer and decorated Marine veteran who saw combat in Afghanistan, astutely made a video and audio recording of the entire series of events forming the basis of the state’s charges.

“A review of the video and recording, which, apparently, were not available to the police before he was charged, makes clear that his accuser, an intruder unwelcome in his home, was asked over 100 times by Patrolman Skinner to leave the premises and refused to do so,” the defense attorney said.

“The video makes further clear that Officer Skinner’s accuser repeatedly battered him by striking him with a shoe and that he exercised extraordinary restraint before being reduced to reasonably defending himself in his own home against an intoxicated, unstable and unwelcome ex-girlfriend.”

Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger said Skinner has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of an internal investigation and court proceedings. He has been a law enforcement officer since 2016.

Skinner’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Sept. 6 before Ohio County Magistrate Patricia Murphy, a court spokeswoman said.