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Wood County grand jury clears detective

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Just days after two Parkersburg Police officers shot and wounded an armed suspect, a special grand jury unanimously decided not to indict a city police detective who shot and killed a man at Grand Central Mall in January.

The same grand jury also voted not to indict another Parkersburg officer accused of using excessive force against a handcuffed suspect in August. However, the officer, Patrolman Jay Hart, has been disciplined internally, Police Chief Joe Martin said.

The grand jury reports were issued Thursday morning, when the panel did return indictments against 17 individuals.

But Parkersburg Police Detective P.M. Edelen was not among them.

On Jan. 14, Edelen and other local law enforcement officers were engaged in a training exercise at the mall food court when a man later identified as 27-year-old John Ragalyi of Newport allegedly stole a woman’s purse. Investigators said the woman called for help, and Edelen and fellow Parkersburg Detective J.M. Stalnaker gave chase, identifying themselves as police officers.

Both Ragalyi and Steven L. Pfalzgraf, 24, of Parkersburg, fled into the parking lot and got in Pfalzgraf’s car. Stalnaker attempted to grab the keys from the ignition, and Pfalzgraf put the vehicle in motion, dragging the officer with him.

When Stalnaker got loose, Pfalzgraf turned the car toward Edelen and drove forward, investigators said. The detective fired his gun multiple times at the vehicle, fatally wounding Pfalzgraf.

According to the grand jury report, the panel “unanimously determined that Detective Pat Edelen acted appropriately in self-defense and defense of others in his actions in firing his weapon at the vehicle driven by Steven Pfalzgraf and did not violate the laws of the State of West Virginia…


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