SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) — A stunning video recorded on a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy’s bodycam was released Friday of a fatal confrontation with carjacking victim David Ward, who was forcibly dragged through the window of his vehicle last month when he was mistaken for the thief and died after being choked during his apprehension.
The sheriff’s office initially delayed releasing the video following a public records act request from The Press Democrat to disclose it. According to the sheriff’s office, the video was held because disclosing it earlier would interfere with the ongoing internal investigation.
Ward called Santa Rosa police on Nov. 24 to report he had been the victim of a carjacking. On Nov. 27th, unbeknownst to authorities, Ward had somehow gotten his car — a Honda Civic — back.
CAUTION: VIDEO CONTAIN SCENES THAT MAY BE DISTURBING: Sonoma County Sheriff’s Bodycam Video Of Confrontation With David Ward
“It started when we received a call from the Santa Rosa police department that a car which had been stolen during carjacking several days prior had been located and was on the move,” said Sheriff Mark Essick on the video. “Our deputies responded and tried to pull it over.”
The pursuit started a short time later involving deputies and two Sebastopol police officers. Ward refused to pull over as the chase continued and was finally stopped in his hometown of Bloomfield on Sutton St. and Hillview St. when he went down a dead-end street and the deputies used a PIT maneuver to pin him in.
On the bodycam video, the deputies pull out their guns and order Ward to put his hands up. They approach the Honda with guns drawn, ordering Ward — who has visible injuries on his face from the violent carjacking days earlier — to open his door and get of the vehicle.
Ward has difficulty unlocking the door, but does roll down his window. Deputy Charles Blount approached the window and Ward tells the deputy — “I can’t believe this, I’m the injured party.”
As Blount reaches into the car with handcuffs, Ward is heard saying, “What is it?”
Blount then grabs Ward’s arm and begins to tug him out of the vehicle through the driver’s side window. But Ward’s leg is struck under the steering wheel as he cries out in agony. Blount and a Sebastopol officer continue to attempt to pull the struggling Ward through the window. Ward then bites the deputy and is tasered by another deputy.
Blount slams Ward’s head against the door jam and begins to choke him until Ward goes limp. The deputies and officers then pull Ward’s limp body out of the open passenger side door.
He is placed on the ground, handcuffed and then the deputies and officers notice he is unconscious and not breathing. They attempt CPR. While not on the video, their attempts to revive him are unsuccessful. Ward dies at the scene.
The video continues with a officer identified as Deputy Jax walking up and telling Blount and the other deputy, “This is, this is the owner of this car. That’s David Ward. He’s the victim, he’s the victim of the 215 (carjacking).”
Raw Video: Sonoma Deputies Learn Carjacking Suspect Is Actually Victim
“He had no reason to run. But I was out with him earlier, like two hours ago at this house,” Jax continues. “No, the car wasn’t there at the time. Obviously, he somehow, he made contact with the guy and got it. But he was there two hours ago and this is him.”
“Oh well,” Blount responded.
Essick said on the video released Friday he has served Blount with a termination notice.
“If you watched the body-worn video closely, you may be concerned about what you saw. So was I,” Essick said. “The way Deputy Blount handles the entire situation is extremely troubling. As a result, I’ve served Deputy Blount a notice of termination,” Essick said.
A second deputy, Jason Little, has been placed on administrative leave.
The Sheriff’s Office is conducting an investigation while the Santa Rosa Police Department conducts an independent criminal probe of Ward’s death.
Essick said Blount will remain on leave until the investigation of the death is completed and all potential appeals have taken place.
“This one person does not reflect the culture of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office and does not represent the hard work of the men and women who work here,” Essick said.