WARNING: DISTRESSING VIDEO BELOW
Callous Disregard for Human Life
(KS) – On August 15, 35-year old Lionel Womack was heading home to Kansas City, Kansas after a business trip to California. Supposedly Womack committed a traffic violation. Whatever the reason, Pratt County Deputies began a chase and were quickly joined by Kiowa County deputies. Womack stopped his vehicle at a dirt road and took off on foot. Rather than engage in a foot pursuit, officers followed Womack into an open field in their vehicles. Deputy Jeremy Rodriguez, with the Kiowa County Sheriff’s Office, used his vehicle to intentionally strike Womack, then ran him over with his County issued patrol truck.
Excessive Force Results in Serious Injuries
Police training does not teach officers to use their vehicles to run over an unarmed fleeing man. Using a vehicle against an individual is a conscious decision to use deadly force. Mr. Womack was extremely lucky that he wasn’t killed, but he did sustain serious injuries. According to the AP article, “Womack says he sustained serious injuries to his back, pelvis and thigh as well as to his right knee, ankle and foot.” Deputy Rodriguez’s actions were clearly outside of any police training he would have received. There is not a single state in our nation that has a law stating serious injury, and possible death, as a penalty for a traffic violaction.
Police Brutality is an Accepted Practice
Mr. Womack is suing, as he should, but the problem is much deeper. While Mr. Womack sits in jail for his felony evading charge, Deputy Rodriguez continues to perform his duties. Kiowa County Sheriff Chris Tedder has continued to refuse to fire Deputy Rodriguez for his actions. As we’ve said before, officers could not get away with these actions without the help of the elected attorneys and that’s exactly what is happening here. Per the AP article,
“The Kansas Bureau of Investigation said it didn’t learn of the incident until September, at which point it offered to help the Kiowa County Attorney’s Office in an investigation. The office declined that offer.
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, KBI spokeswoman Melissa Underwood said in an email.”
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) offered to help, but the County Attorney didn’t want them sticking their nose in. One can only assume that they knew they wouldn’t be able to sweep the incident under the rug if the KBI got involved. Then the KBI saw the video of the incident and again offered to help. Since the article just says they “reached out to prosecutors,” we are unsure of which prosecutors they reached out to. Were they prosecutors with the County Attorney’s Office? Did that agency refuse them a second time? Or does the article mean the prosecutors at the Kansas Attorney General’s Office (which is state level)? Regardless, the KBI will now be working with the Kansas Attorney General’s Office in investigating the excessive force used against Mr. Womack.
State Agencies Step In
It appears to me to be a good sign that the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Kansas Attorney General’s Office have chosen to insert themselves into this investigation, over the apparent objections of the County Attorney, and more than likely, the Sheriff’s Office. They are fully aware that nothing has been done to Deputy Jeremy Rodriguez, to date. They are also fully aware that their involvement is not wanted which would indicate to them that the two agencies are trying to whitewash the whole incident. By using their higher authority to step in, they are saying they will not tolerate this incident being hidden. They are also saying they are willing to prosecute criminal acts.
While it’s doubtful that anything will happen to the Sheriff or County Attorney, since they didn’t break any laws, Deputy Jeremy Rodriguez is in a completely different position. I would say it’s time to start sweating Mr. Rodriguez.
The first video below shows the vehicle strike, and run over, Mr. Womack. The second video is a news video and stops just before Mr. Womack is struck by the vehicle, but they also include some text that gives good information.