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Retired Portsmouth officer acquitted twice of manslaughter charges sues for malicious prosecution

Retired Portsmouth officer acquitted twice of manslaughter charges sues for malicious prosecution

PORTSMOUTH — A retired Portsmouth police officer who was indicted and then acquitted of manslaughter charges in two separate cases has filed lawsuits claiming he was maliciously prosecuted.

Vincent McClean filed the complaints Monday in Portsmouth Circuit Court against investigators he alleges were responsible for his indictments. He’s seeking $6 million in damages in one case, and $10 million in the other.

In both criminal cases, McClean was accused of failing to provide or seek necessary medical care for people he had arrested. Both incidents occurred in 2018, and both people died shortly after McClean and a partner took them into custody.

The first case involved the death of robbery suspect Willie Marble III. It went to trial last summer, and the jury acquitted McClean after just 14 minutes of deliberations. Prosecutors had alleged McClean intentionally failed to render aid to Marable after Marable was shot by another officer. Marable died on the way to the hospital.

The second case went to trial last week. It involved Carmeita VanGilder, a 28-year-old pregnant woman who died shortly after McClean arrested her for an outstanding warrant. A medical examiner determined she died from heart failure caused by her use of inhalants, with chronic drug abuse also playing a role.

Footage from McClean’s body camera and a police car camera was played during the trial, showing VanGilder coughing and vomiting multiple times. While prosecutors argued the video showed VanGilder was clearly in distress and needed to be taken to a hospital, the defense disagreed. So did the judge. He dismissed the charges against McClean after the prosecution rested its case.

The only defendant named in McClean’s lawsuit in the VanGilder case is Virginia State Police Special Agent Shawna Griffith, who investigated it. Among the defendants named in the Marable case are Virginia State Police Special Agent Austin Pittman and former Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office investigator Robert Huntington.

Michael Massie, one of the attorneys who defended McClean in his criminal cases and also represents him in the civil lawsuits, said prosecutors were not named in the claims because they’re protected by sovereign immunity.

A spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police said the agency does not respond to pending litigation. Huntington could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The lawsuits claim the investigators provided unsubstantiated accusations as evidence, failed to interview pertinent witnesses and ignored or omitted evidence that would have exonerated the officer.

As a result of his indictments in the two cases, the lawsuits allege, McClean was wrongly arrested and jailed. He suffered damage to his reputation; emotional, mental and physical distress; and incurred the expense of having to defend himself, the complaints said.

Jane Harper,

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