A federal lawsuit has been filed after newly released dashcam footage shows a Kansas deputy running down a running Black man with his patrol truck.
Lionel Womack, a former Kansas City police detective, said in an excessive force lawsuit filed on Thursday, December 17, that Kiowa County Sheriff’s deputy Jeremy Rodriguez purposely ran him over during a traffic stop this fall, The Associated Press reported. The 35-year-old said he sustained serious injuries from the August 15 encounter, which was captured in a now-viral video circulating online.
The dashcam footage shows a shirtless Womack fleeing through a field at night as the patrol truck trails closely behind — eventually plowing him over. Womack had not been speeding or driving under the influence at the time he was pulled over, according to The Associated Press. He told The AP that his driver’s license and registration were also up to date.
“When the first officer turned his lights on, I pulled over and complied … exactly as you’re supposed to. But when three additional vehicles pulled up quickly and started to surround my car, I freaked out,” Womack said, The Associated Press reported. “That’s when I took off, it was a ‘fight or flight’ moment and I was going to live.
“I felt like I was in danger. This was out in the country, late at night, and it was dark,” he added. “So I ran for my life. That’s what you see in the dashcam video. I’m running in an open field, and I’m scared.”
You can watch the video below:
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Kansas, accuses Rodriguez of using excessive force, according to The AP. The complaint, obtained by the outlet, argues that the deputy was “callously indifferent” to Womack’s civil rights.
The Associated Press said Rodriguez is still on patrol, while Womack is serving jail time “on felony charges of attempting to elude police and several traffic violations.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Womack Left the Force Earlier That Month ‘With Hopes of Growing His Own Security Business,’ According to The Associated Press
According to The Associated Press, Womack left the police force in early August to pursue his passion of “growing his own security business.”
He was returning from a California business trip in Western Kansas when a highway patrol officer pursued him in a chase over “an alleged traffic violation,” the lawsuit obtained by The AP says. Womack’s lawyer told The AP that Oklahoma law enforcement “believe Womack was speeding as he drove through the Guyman area, but could not catch him.” News station KSHB in Kansas City reported that a Kansas Highway Patrol spokesperson said Womack had been observed driving more than 100 miles per hour but “after speeds reached nearly 140 miles per hour, the trooper disregarded Womack.” His lawyer said Womack “was pulled over because his car matched the description of someone who was speeding in the area,” KSHB reported.
When the vehicle was spotted again later, KSHB reported, the chase began again with support from Pratt County and Kiowa County deputies.
Womack said he took off in a nearby field when the chase ended on a dirt road, according to The Associated Press. The dashcam footage was filmed on a Pratt County deputy’s vehicle, the outlet continued.
The Kiowa County Attorney’s Office Declined Assistance From the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Associated Press Reported
The Associated Press said the Kansas Bureau of Investigation claimed it did not learn of the encounter until September. When it offered to assist the Kiowa County Attorney’s Office in an investigation, the bureau said the office declined, The AP continued.
According to the news outlet:
The KBI viewed the dashcam video for the first time on Thursday and again reached out to prosecutors. They will now be providing investigative support to the Kansas Attorney General’s Office in a review of the incident.
Zee Womack, Lionel’s wife, told KSHB, “I’m a police officer, we are pro-police, so you always want to believe that we would do the right thing. I just couldn’t find a justification based on what I saw.”