On Friday, California police released a disturbing video of Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy Charlie Blount wrongly accusing a man of stealing his own vehicle before slamming the man’s head into his own car and placing him in a sleeper hold.
If this all sounds a bit excessive that’s because it is.
Buzzfeed News reports that the “suspect,” 52-year-old David Glen Ward, of Petaluma, Calif., would later die from his injuries. And as a result, well…
“The way Deputy Blount handles the entire situation is extremely troubling,” Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said in a video statement that included police bodycam footage of the gruesome assault. “As a result, I have served Deputy Blount a notice of termination.”
So what exactly happened here?
On Nov. 24, Ward told police that his green Honda Civic had been stolen. However, he failed to inform authorities that he had gotten it back soon afterward. So on Nov. 27, when Santa Rosa police spotted the stolen vehicle on the road, they notified sheriff’s deputies.
I’ll let Buzzfeed News explain from here:
Deputy Jason Little initially pulled the car over, but Ward sped away, leading police on a 5 mile chase. Two police officers joined in, and Ward came to a stop when Little rammed his car.
Footage from Little’s body cam shows him standing behind his open door, gun drawn, ordering Ward to show his hands — but Ward sped off again. Little told dispatchers that Ward refused to show his hands and was reaching toward his waist.
Little eventually stopped Ward again with a pit maneuver—where a fleeing car can be hit from the back side and forced to turn sideways.
From there the situation escalated.
Deputies drew their weapons and attempted to remove Ward from his vehicle by pulling him through the driver’s side window. To prevent them from doing so, Ward pinned his legs under the steering wheel. That’s when things went from bad to worse.
Blount pulled Ward halfway out of the car, then smashes his head against the driver’s side door frame. [Deputy Jason] Little tased Ward twice.
Blount then put Ward in a carotid restraint, which places pressure on a person’s carotid artery and causes them to lose consciousness. Some police officers do this to subdue a person.
Little instructed a police officer to break the passenger side window and open the door. The officers pulled Ward from the car and lay him on the ground, where they handcuff him.
“Is he conscious?” Blount asked.
“No, we need medical, man, get medical,” Little said.
A knife was confiscated from Ward as he lay unconscious on the ground. That’s when another deputy, Nick Jax, arrived on the scene and dropped a bombshell.
“This is the owner of this car. That’s David Ward,” Jax said.
“Then why did he run?” Little asked.
“I have no idea why he ran,” Jax said. “He had no reason to run. But I was out with him earlier, like two hours ago, at his house.”
“The car wasn’t here at the time,” Jax said. “Obviously he, somehow, he made contact with the guy and got it.”
Ward’s cause of death is still being investigated by the Marin County Coroner’s Office, but he was later declared dead after being taken to a hospital.
Blount was placed on administrative leave in the immediate aftermath and if you let his attorney, Harry Stern, tell it, Ward is at fault for his own demise.
“Frankly, Mr. Ward caused his own death by inexplicably taking a number of bizarre actions that confirmed in the deputies’ minds that he was an armed car-jacker, rather than the victim of that crime,” Stern said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
In response, Ward’s family explained that he was in “poor health” prior to his death. He suffered from a serious heart condition and his mother, Ernie Ward, also revealed that he used an oxygen tank and often relied on a wheelchair after being hit by a drunk driver approximately 20 years ago.
“He had a hard time breathing and it’s hard to imagine him having even the energy or force to aggressively avoid an arrest,” Catherine Aguilera, his half-sister, told the Press Democrat.
The actual car thief was eventually revealed to be 32-year-old Driden Adrian Estrada, who had been living in Ward’s home as a caretaker.