SANTA ROSA (CBS / AP) — A former Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy who slammed a suspect’s head into a car door frame last year and put him in a neck hold after a chase has been arrested on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter.
Charles Blount, 61, turned himself in at the Sonoma County jail Monday night on a warrant issued by the Superior Court in the county north of San Francisco, authorities said.
He was booked on suspicion of felony involuntary manslaughter and misdemeanor assault by a public officer and released in about an hour after posting $50,000 bond. It wasn’t immediately clear whether he had an attorney to speak on his behalf in the criminal matter.
An email to the officer of Harry Stern, who represents him in a civil case, wasn’t immediately returned Thursday.
Blount was arrested on suspicion of killing David Ward, 52, on Nov. 27 after deputies spotted him driving a car they mistakenly believed was stolen. The car actually belonged to Ward, who had recovered it after being carjacked and pistol-whipped several days earlier, but he hadn’t notified authorities, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
After about a 5-mile (8-kilometer) high-speed pursuit by deputies and Sebastopol police, Ward pulled over on a dead-end road near Bloomfield, where he lived, authorities said.
When Ward didn’t unlock his car door, Blount tried to pull the seated man through the open window. However, his leg was stuck under the steering wheel and he shouted in pain, according to body camera video released by the Sheriff’s Office.
CAUTION: VIDEO CONTAIN SCENES THAT MAY BE DISTURBING: Sonoma County Sheriff’s Bodycam Video Of Confrontation With David Ward
On the video, another deputy shoots him with a stun gun.
Both Blount and another deputy are heard saying that Ward has bitten them.
During the struggle, Blount pulled Ward’s head out of the window and slams it against the frame of the car door, the video showed.
He also places him in a neck hold, after which Ward appears to lose consciousness.
He stopped breathing and was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The Marin County coroner determined that Ward’s death was a homicide and that he died from cardiorespiratory collapse, blunt impact injuries, neck restraint and being shocked with a Taser during a “physical confrontation with law enforcement.”
The coroner also found that Ward was under the influence of methamphetamine, had a history of chronic substance abuse, cardiovascular and pulmonary disease and other issues, along with a history of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Sheriff Mark Essick announced in December that he would fire Blount for violating department policies but Blount retired in February before the process could be completed.
“If you watched the body-worn video closely, you may be concerned about what you saw. So was I,” Essick said in a video released by the Sheriff’s Office last December.
“The way Deputy Blount handles the entire situation is extremely troubling. As a result, I’ve served Deputy Blount a notice of termination,” the sheriff went on to say.
Ward’s mother has filed a federal civil rights lawsuits over his death. Her attorney, Izaak Schwaiger, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that the investigation correctly determined Ward’s death was a crime.
“The force that was used was not necessary and it was not reasonable,” he said, adding that Blount “was a guy looking to hurt somebody and he killed a man.”
© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.