James Whittemore Investigation

Evidence Video

For more than a year in semi-rural Kentucky, three elderly sisters have doggedly pursued accountability and redress for their mentally challenged brother who was brutally beaten by a state trooper.

In many respects, the sisters' pursuit mirrors that of a multitude of complainants, especially blacks, whose encounters with law enforcement are marked by vicious beatings, false arrests, a lack of justice, without apologies to the victims or punishment of police officers.

The sisters' quest for justice also illuminates the role new media play in promoting false and inaccurate police versions of citizen encounters with law enforcement officers, particularly those involving African Americans, people of color, homeless citizens and the poor.

The sisters, Mary Whittemore and Wanda Stubblefield, both retired professionals, live in Graves County, Kentucky. Both women and their brother, James Whittemore, 58, are African Americans. James Whittemore, before his struggle with paranoia and schizophrenia began 25 years ago, had a comfortable income derived from his craft as an outstanding auto mechanic.

Since then, however, he has eked out a living on disability benefits and the occasional repair of a range of vehicles.

On June 15 2015, Whittemore, after a white acquaintance drove him to repair a vehicle, was confronted in the owner's driveway by a Kentucky state trooper.

The Trooper, Cory Hamby, after calling Whittemore by his first name, threw him to the pavement, head first, then brutally beat and handcuffed him. Minutes later, Hamby, who is white, arrested him.

Hamby had followed the vehicle for several miles after a white woman called police to report that a black man (Whittemore), was sitting by the side of the road in front of her home. Minutes later, though, she called police again, said he had left and that she was "not worried anymore."

Nevertheless, Hamby who saw Whittemore when David Floyd, the white acquaintance, stopped to pick him up, followed them to the driveway.

Whittemore, on seeing Hamby, placed an open bottle of liquor beside the vehicle's right tire. As Whittemore objected, Hamby who had noticed the bottle, emptied its contents. Whittemore's objection, according to the sisters, angered Hamby, who grabbed Whittemore and threw him onto the pavement.

To justify the beating, Hamby, in his incident report, claimed that Whittemore was "violent" and "intended to harm" him. Hamby's charges, however, lack any evidence to support them. Curiously, Hamby did not allege that Whittemore threatened, harmed or injured him.

Whittemore, on the other hand, suffered a seriously damaged left inner eye socket, which required several hours of indelicate surgery. His injuries occurred, Whittemore said, when Hamby” sat on (his chest" and hit his "head with a closed fist." Trooper Hamby, boldly asserted that Whittemore, although partially blinded by the beating and held down, "became irate without motive.” Hamby also alleged that Whittemore "kicked" him "in his head, "attempted to gouge" his eye (he did not specify which one), and "grabbed" his face.

According to Don Jackson, founder of Policeabuse.com, nationally regarded for its investigations of rogue law enforcement officers, "there is substantial evidence that Hamby may have embellished and falsified his report to justify the assault on Mr. Whittemore. Hamby never mentioned in his report that Mr. Whittemore was handcuffed from the time he was escorted away from the passenger side of the vehicle.

"Officer Hamby claims that while lying flat on his back with his hands cuffed behind him, that Mr. Whittemore kicked the trooper in the back of his head as he sat on Mr. Whittemore’s stomach." The officer also alleged, according to Policeabuse.com, that "Mr. Whittemore stomped all over his hat. Policeabuse.com noted, "Trooper Hamby placed himself and other officers on the scene in danger by inciting an otherwise benign and most compliant intoxicated person into agitation through excessive force."

In mid-December, Mary Whittemore, in response to her brother's beating, injuries and Hamby's allegations, filed a complaint against the trooper with the Kentucky State Police.

Soon after filing the complaint, Mary Whittemore told Policeabuse.com that a state police official notified her that "as previously explained, this matter was investigated following the incident in June of last year and (Kentucky State Police), has conducted all appropriate investigations into this matter." The official, however, provided no details about the investigations or who conducted and/or supervised them.

Seemingly rebuffed, but still determined to expose what they are certain is a miscarriage of justice, the sisters turned to Policeabuse.com to represent them and their brother.

In "a comprehensive review of Mr. Whittemore's case, based on several hours of interviews, a review of police reports and examination of medical reports," Policeabuse.com concluded that "the evidence we reviewed supports Mr. Whittemore’s claim that (Hamby's) report is false and may have been written to conceal misconduct." And, moreover, that "Hamby characterizes Mr. Whittemore as violent and intending to harm an officer without motive--but without any substantiation."

On the contrary, Policeabuse.com noted, "Mr. Whittemore has no history of violence against authorities.” Hamby's actions, the report states, were "reckless, inflammatory and violated departmental use of force policies."

Whittemore suffered additional damage when he was "slandered in his community,"Policeabuse.com said, when the narrative prepared by Kentucky State Police was "published, without review, by the press."

One such version was published by The Mayfield Messenger. Months afterward, a Policeabuse.com Journalist called The Messenger and asked its editor, Thomas Berry, for an explanation for having published an erroneous account supplied by Kentucky State police. Berry, annoyed by the question shot back, "I don't have time for this nonsense, if you have a problem with the article, call the Kentucky State police officer who wrote it."

Jackson, an expert police investigator for more than three decades, said, "Whittemore's case runs along several tracks of national significance which reflect the trauma suffered by thousands of blacks, Latinos and the poor at the hands of dangerous officers. To add insult to injury, Jackson observed, "these victims, mostly of color, are then stigmatized by news media which violate their pledges to publish articles based on independent reportage and careful analysis."

"The family of James Whittemore does not know what we would have done without Sgt. Don Jackson and his staff. We contacted everyone in Kentucky starting with governor down to KSP. We also contacted several lawyers and no one would help us. We then decided to get out of Kentucky to try and get help. We contacted Policeabuse.com/Sgt. Jackson. Sgt. Jackson got information that we were not allowed to get. Sgt. Jackson has worked wonders for us getting justice for James. He is the most professional person we have ever worked with. He has been very patient with us and has worked diligently with James due to his disability. We have been working on this for almost three years and Sgt. Jackson has stood by our side. It is so sad that our state does not call for justice for their people. DON'T FORGET POLICEABUSE.COM. THE COMPANY IS WORTH IT."

Mary Whittemore