Federal lawsuit: Kan. deputy purposely ran over suspect
A federal lawsuit filed Thursday alleges the deputy used excessive force and intentionally drove over Lionel Womack
By Suzie Ziegler
BELLE PLAINE, Kan. — Video released Thursday shows a Kansas sheriff’s deputy driving over a suspect who fled a traffic stop. Lionel Womack, 35, alleges the deputy used excessive force and intentionally drove over him, according to the Associated Press (AP).
Dashcam video obtained by AP shows Womack running across a field pursued by a Kiowa County Sheriff’s Office vehicle. The vehicle runs into Womack, knocking him to the ground and running over him. The video was recorded from the vehicle of a Pratt County deputy who was assisting on the call.
The August 15 incident began when Kansas Highway Patrol tried to pull over Womack for a traffic violation, according to the AP. Pratt County and Kiowa County deputies joined the pursuit. Womack pulled over on a dirt road and then took off on foot. Court records show Womack is charged with several misdemeanor traffic violations including driving without headlights and improper signaling.
“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. That's when I took off, it was a ‘fight or flight’ moment and I was going to live,” Womack said in a statement. “I felt like I was in danger. This was out in the country, late at night, and it was dark. 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.”
Womack says he sustained serious injuries to his back, pelvis and thigh as well as to his right knee, ankle and foot, according the AP. The federal lawsuit filed Thursday says Deputy Jeremy Rodriguez used excessive force and was “callously indifferent” to Womack's civil rights.
Womack remains jailed on felony charges of attempting to elude a law enforcement officer by engaging in reckless driving and interference with a law enforcement officer. Attorney Michael Knuckelman told the AP that Womack had remained in jail because of an outstanding arrest warrant out of Oklahoma. Womack was charged August 12 in Oklahoma with endangering others while eluding police, court records show.
Womack is a former police detective from Kansas City, Kansas. His wife, mother, stepfather and two aunts also have law enforcement backgrounds.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is assisting the Kansas Attorney General’s Office in the ongoing investigation.