Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

September 1, 2012

2nd trooper in shooting dies

CHARLESTON (AP) — A second trooper involved in a shooting during a traffic stop died Friday, West Virginia State Police said.

Eric Michael Workman had been in critical condition at a hospital since the Tuesday night shooting. Cpl. Marshall Lee Bailey also was killed in the shooting.

“I met with Trooper Workman’s family earlier this week, and I can honestly say without a doubt, West Virginia lost a very brave young man this afternoon,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said in a statement.

State Police say 22-year-old Luke Baber of Oak Hill shot the troopers with a handgun hidden in his pants after he was put in their cruiser’s backseat. It happened at the Wallback park and ride along West Virginia Route 36 just off Interstate 79 in Roane County

State Police Superintendent Col. Jay Smithers has said the troopers searched Baber but they did not discover the gun. Baber’s hands were handcuffed in front of him.

Baber also wounded a tow truck driver and Roane County Sheriff’s Deputy John Westfall before he was killed in a shootout with other officers.

Workman joined the West Virginia State Police on Jan. 10, 2011.

“Trooper Workman was an outstanding young man with a promising future,” Smithers said. “It is unfortunate his life was cut short by this senseless and cowardly act.”

State Police said in a statement that Workman’s family wanted the public to know that he was an organ donor and the family hoped that “even in his death, his selfless service to others will continue by providing others an opportunity to live a fruitful life.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Bailey’s funeral is set for 2 p.m. Sunday at the Charleston Civic Center. The fatal shootings of the troopers could lead to changes in the agency’s arrest procedures.

The State Police reviews any critical incident to determine whether changes are needed to improve safety, agency spokesman Sgt. Michael Baylous said.

“Our policy and procedure manual is a fluid document,” Baylous told the Charleston Gazette. “We’re constantly looking at it and adjusting it.”

Troopers are given the discretion to handcuff a suspect with hands in front if the person is not considered to be a threat, is cooperating or is being arrested on a misdemeanor charge, Baylous said.

Baber was driving a stolen truck but the troopers did not know that when they pulled him over. They were responding to a reckless driving complaint. The troopers also were unaware of a previous domestic battery conviction, Baylous said.

“They based their actions on the circumstances as they were at the time (Baber was handcuffed),” Baylous said.

“Bailey was a veteran trooper,” Baylous said. “Based on his experience, he was weighing into his decisions whether this guy was cooperating and things of that nature.”

While the incident will be reviewed, Baylous said the agency has not had time to address these issues because “we’re still so much in the grieving process.”

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