BELLE PLAINE, Kan. – The dashcam video captured a horrific scene: a Kansas sheriff’s deputy in a patrol truck mowing down a Black man who was working, shirtless, throughout a discipline in the summertime darkness after fleeing a site visitors cease.
Lionel Womack — a 35-year-old former police detective from Kansas Metropolis, Kansas — alleges in a extreme drive lawsuit filed Thursday that he sustained severe accidents when Kiowa County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Rodriguez deliberately drove over him in the course of the Aug. 15 encounter.
Womack mentioned in a press release that he hadn’t been dashing nor was he underneath the affect of something when he was initially pulled over. His driver’s license, insurance coverage and registration have been updated.
“When the primary officer turned his lights on, I pulled over and complied … precisely as you are presupposed to. However when three further automobiles pulled up shortly and began to encompass my automotive, I freaked out. That is after I took off, it was a ‘struggle or flight’ second and I used to be going to dwell,” he mentioned. “I felt like I used to be at risk. This was out within the nation, late at evening, and it was darkish. So I ran for my life. That is what you see within the dashcam video. I am working in an open discipline, and I am scared.”
The graphic video is on the crux of the federal civil rights case filed by lawyer Michael Kuckelman in opposition to the deputy in U.S. District Court docket in Kansas. The lawsuit argues that Rodriguez used extreme drive and was “callously detached” to Womack’s civil rights.
Womack had left the police division earlier in August with hopes of rising his personal safety enterprise. He was on his manner again residence from a enterprise journey to California when a Kansas Freeway Patrol officer in western Kansas initiated a chase over “an alleged site visitors violation,” in response to the lawsuit. Sheriff’s deputies from Pratt County and Kiowa County joined within the chase.
The automotive chase ended on a dust highway, and Womack took off on foot throughout a close-by discipline.
The dashcam footage from a Pratt County sheriff’s deputy’s car exhibits Rodriguez utilizing his patrol truck to catch as much as Womack, who was unarmed.
Rodriguez swerves his truck to hit Womack, knocking him to the bottom and working over him. Womack rolls out from underneath the truck, his legs and arms flailing as somebody on the video shouts, “lie down, lie down.” A deputy within the second patrol truck might be heard uttering an expletive as he watches.
Womack says he sustained severe accidents to his again, pelvis and thigh in addition to to his proper knee, ankle and foot.
“The dashcam video is disturbing,” Kuckelman mentioned. “It’s not possible to observe a video of a deputy driving his truck over Mr. Womack with out feeling sick. There was nowhere for Mr. Womack to go. It was an open discipline, and he was trapped, but the deputy drove his truck over him anyway.”
Neither Kiowa County Sheriff Chris Tedder nor his lawyer has responded to Related Press requests for remark. Nobody has defined why Rodriguez selected to run Womack down. The deputy’s race is unclear.
Kuckelman urged Tedder in particular person and in letters to fireside Rodriguez, and the sheriff has refused. Rodriguez stays on patrol. Kuckelman additionally needs Rodriguez charged criminally and has accused the sheriff of partaking in a coverup of the deputy’s conduct.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation mentioned it did not study of the incident till September, at which level it provided to assist the Kiowa County Lawyer’s Workplace in an investigation. The workplace declined that provide.
The KBI considered the dashcam video for the primary time on Thursday and once more reached out to prosecutors. They are going to now be offering investigative help to the Kansas Lawyer Normal’s Workplace in a evaluate of the incident, KBI spokeswoman Melissa Underwood mentioned in an e mail.
A spokesman for the state’s lawyer common’s workplace mentioned he would reply to AP’s questions on the difficulty later.
Womack stays jailed, 4 months later, on felony fees of making an attempt to elude a regulation enforcement officer by partaking in reckless driving and interference with a regulation enforcement officer. Court docket information present he’s additionally charged with a number of misdemeanor site visitors citations, together with failure to drive in the suitable lane on a four-lane freeway, improper sign and driving with out headlights.
Kuckelman mentioned Womack had remained in jail due to an excellent arrest warrant out of Oklahoma. The lawyer added that authorities there mentioned they wanted a governor’s warrant to extradite Womack. They obtained it and extradited him Thursday to Guymon, Oklahoma. In accordance with Kuckleman, Oklahoma officers imagine Womack was dashing as he drove by way of the Guyman space, however couldn’t catch him.
On-line court docket information present Womack was charged Aug. 12 in Texas County, Oklahoma, with endangering others whereas eluding or making an attempt to elude police.
Womack comes from a regulation enforcement household. His spouse and his mom are officers with the Kansas Metropolis, Kansas Police Division. His stepfather retired from police work as a sergeant there. Two aunts are police dispatchers.
Zee Womack watched the video of her husband being run over for the primary time on Wednesday, replaying it 4 instances as she struggled to grasp why the deputy felt justified in utilizing such drive. Her husband is fortunate to be alive, she mentioned.
“I’m a police officer as nicely, and I really feel like particularly proper now it’s a actually tough time to be a police officer. We do not at all times get the help, I suppose, that will be useful on this occupation,” she mentioned. “And this makes it much more tough to be an officer.”
An officer who is ready to make choices like that ought to not have a badge, she mentioned.
“To me it confirmed a blatant disregard for human life,” she mentioned.
Lionel Womack mentioned he believes within the “blue brotherhood” and that almost all law enforcement officials are good.
“However we have now to carry regulation enforcement accountable after they cross the road,” he mentioned “These rogue regulation enforcement officers give a nasty title to the great officers, and we have now to cease them. I by no means imagined that I might sometime be the sufferer of extreme drive by a fellow regulation enforcement officer. He might have simply killed me.”
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