Indicted Pulaski County constables face third federal civil suit

UPDATE POSTED 7 p.m. MARCH 24, 2021

PULASKI COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ)- A man who claimed he was falsely arrested by two Pulaski County constables was done in by video that told a different story.

A judge last week dropped the federal civil rights and wrongful arrest suit filed in January by Hubert Coots against constables Michael ‘Wally’ Wallace and Gary Baldock. Coots agreed to the dismissal, according to federal court records.

The two Pulaski County constables were indicted in February 2020 on federal criminal charges of violating the rights of citizens through false arrests, thefts and intimidation. They later were indicted on drug distribution charges for allegedly confiscating drugs and under-reporting or not reporting the amounts and then reselling them, prosecutors have said.

Baldock also is charged with assault and attempted murder for allegedly opening fire when FBI agents came to arrest him early on the morning of March 6, 2020. He and an agent were wounded. Agents say drugs were found in Baldock’s car in his garage.

Coots’ lawsuit was the fourth of five that have been filed since last fall against the constables.

The others still are pending.

Coots had sued claiming in January claiming that Wallace and Baldock falsified evidence when they searched his home and charged him with marijuana trafficking for five pounds of the drug seized in his home on Jan. 13, 2020.

But Wallace’s attorney, Aaron Smith, in the civil case, and Robert Norfleet in the criminal case, produced a 50-minute video in which Coots clearly acknowledges the marijuana, tells the officers he is helping a friend and shows them where the drugs are hidden in his basement, the Commonwealth-Journal newspaper reported.

The video also shows the seizure of five guns and more than $3,000 in cash.

Coots even tells the constables, “I’m the dummy,” and discusses the possibility of helping set up a buy with his supplier for a possible arrest, the newspaper reported.

Both men face trials on the civil rights and drug charges in June and Baldock faces trial n the shooting charges in July.

UPDATE POSTED 9 a.m. MARCH 15, 2021

SOMERSET, Ky. (WTVQ) – New trial dates have been set for two Pulaski County constables

Michael “Wally” Wallace

charged with violating the rights of citizens through false arrests, thefts and intimidation.

Meanwhile, both men also face a fifth civil lawsuit stemming from arrests where charges later were dropped.

U.S. District Judge Robert Wier set a June 14, 2021 trial for constables Michael ‘Wally’ Wallace and Gary Baldock. The trial is scheduled for 9 a.m. in federal court in London. Prior court records say the trial could last five days.

The June 14 date is set for the civil rights violations and for two charges related to drug trafficking in which they are accused, among other things, of seizing drugs, under reporting what was seized, and reselling them.

In addition, Baldock is scheduled for trial July 19 at 9 a.m. in London on charges of attempted murder and assault for a shoot out with FBI agents during his arrest March 6, 2020 in which he and an FBI agent were wounded.

The trials have been delayed three times for a variety of reasons, the latest because of the surge in COVID cases nationwide. But as that surge has eased and vaccinations become more widespread, the courts last week eased the limitations and began resetting cases.

In the latest civil lawsuit, Timothy Jones, of Lexington, David Jones, of Pulaski County, and Robert Chad Brown, of Whitesburg, all claim the two constables violated their rights during arrests they say were based on faked or trumped up charges. The lawsuits also name fellow constable Eric Strunk, Pulaski sheriff’s deputies Ryan Jones and Logan Starnes and Somerset Police Sgt. Andrew Salmons, for alleged roles in the arrests.

None of the officers have had a chance to respond to the lawsuit, which was filed Thursday.

Brown’s allegations stem from a variety of incidents, primarily on Feb. 3, 2019, and then May 3, 2020. The charges stemming from the 2019 arrest were dropped but he claims he was so fearful after being harassed for months, he ran when he was a passenger in a car during a traffic stop last May.

He alleges Starnes and Jones assaulted him while he was handcuffed and that he suffered injuries, including a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder.

Baldock, who has been in office since November 2018, and the 46-year-old Wallace, whose been in office 15 years, were indicted on Feb. 27, 2020, on federal civil rights violations charges for what federal prosecutors say was a long-running pattern of intimidation, threats and false arrests as well as doctoring arrest reports to take drugs and cash.

They were arrested March 6, Wallace without incident, but the 56-year-old Baldock after a shoot out with FBI agents at his Somerset home that left him and an agent injured. Baldock has been charged with attempted murder of a federal officer as well.

In June, both also were indicted on federal drug trafficking charges.

Their trials were set for Nov. 16 and Dec. 7, 2020 in U.S. District Court in London.

Prosecutors asked those dates to be continued while experts extracted information from a cell phone Wallace provided them. Both men hope video on the cell phone will help clear them.  Both men have pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them.

A judge moved the trial for both men on the civil rights and the drug trafficking charges to Jan. 19, 2021. Baldock’s trial on the shooting-related charges was moved to March 8, 2021; however, a December 2020 court order postponed all trials set to begin before March 15, 2021, due to the ongoing pandemic.

ORIGINAL STORY POSTED JAN. 4, 2021

SOMERSET, Ky. (WTVQ) – A third federal civil lawsuit has been filed against two Pulaski County constables who already face criminal charges, according to the Commonwealth Journal.

The report says Kayla Dobbs, of Somerset, filed the lawsuit against Pulaski District 5 Constable Michael “Wally” Wallace and Pulaski District 4 Constable Gary Baldock.

In the suit, Dobbs claims the two constables violated her civil rights through illegal searches and seizures; false arrest; false imprisonment; physically assaulted her while searching her; used intimidation and force to deprive her of her rights; did physical damage to her property for no reason and took valuables from her that the two didn’t register as evidence or return to her, according to the report.

Dobbs claims on December 22, 2019, she was a passenger in her own car that was being driven by someone else because she had alcohol earlier in the evening.  She says the car was stopped at a gas station when Wallace and Baldock approached and told her to move the vehicle “to a different location,” according to the report.

She says she told the constables she didn’t feel it would be safe for her to move the car since she had been drinking, but claims the two men insisted she move her vehicle.  She says as soon as she began moving her car, she was stopped by Wallace and Baldock for a number of alleged offenses, according to the report.

Pulaski District Court records show Dobbs was charged with Operating a Motor Vehicle Under the Influence of Alcohol; Rear License Plate not Illuminated; Failure to Wear Seat Belts; Failure to Produce Insurance Card and Expired Registration, according to the Commonwealth Journal.

The report says the charges against Dobbs were dismissed March 11, 2020, just days after the two constables were arrested by the FBI.

Dobbs also alleges the two men verbally abused her during her arrest by using a sexually suggestive slur against her.  She also claims Wallace physically assaulted her under the guise of searching her as Baldock looked on and commented “she wanted it,” according to the report.

She also alleges both men repeatedly accused her of having illegal drugs and that they demanded cash or drugs.  The report cites the lawsuit as saying “The Defendants utilized a drug dog, which found no trace of illegal substances in the Plaintiff’s vehicle.”

Dobbs says Wallace and Baldock cut open the seat of her car, destroying it while looking for illegal substances.  Nothing illegal was found during the search, according to the report.

She also claims the two men took her personal property, such as cash and gift cards that were never accounted for in documents, never entered into evidence nor returned to her, according to the report.

Dobbs is seeking “a sum to reasonably compensate her for her injuries and damages” as well as any punitive damages, attorney fees and any other relief she may be entitled to, according to the Commonwealth Journal report.

The second federal civil rights lawsuit filed against Wallace and Baldock alleges false arrest, civil rights violations, faking evidence and other violations.

In their federal lawsuit, Anita Stigall and her husband, Ronald Lee Stigall Jr., of Eubank, allege Wallace and Baldock searched their home on Nov. 29, 2019, based on falsified allegations and then planted evidence to be able to charge the couple with drug trafficking.

They note that they have not been indicted by a Pulaski County Grand Jury and that items seized from their home, including such things as toy weapons belonging to their children, have yet to be returned.

According to court documents, the couple seeks a trial by jury and both compensatory and punitive damages for their losses, pain and suffering and other losses.

Lester Turner Jr., of Ferguson, filed the first federal civil lawsuit claiming Baldock and Wallace falsely arrested him on heroin and meth trafficking charges and ransacked his home on Shoopman Lane without a warrant on Feb. 2, 2020.

Baldock, who has been in office since November 2018, and the 46-year-old Wallace, whose been in office 15 years, were indicted on Feb. 27, 2020, on federal civil rights violations charges for what federal prosecutors say was a long-running pattern of intimidation, threats and false arrests as well as doctoring arrest reports to take drugs and cash.

They were arrested March 6, Wallace without incident, but the 56-year-old Baldock after a shoot out with FBI agents at his Somerset home that left him and an agent injured. Baldock has been charged with attempted murder of a federal officer as well.

In June, both also were indicted on federal drug trafficking charges.

Their trials were set for Nov. 16 and Dec. 7, 2020 in U.S. District Court in London.

Prosecutors asked those dates to be continued while experts extracted information from a cell phone Wallace provided them. Both men hope video on the cell phone will help clear them.  Both men have pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them.

A judge moved the trial for both men on the civil rights and the drug trafficking charges to Jan. 19, 2021. Baldock’s trial on the shooting-related charges was moved to March 8, 2021; however, a December 2020 court order postponed all trials set to begin before March 15, 2021, due to the ongoing pandemic.  As of this writing, no new dates had been set.

Gary Baldock/Grayson County Detention Center

Michael “Wally” Wallace

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