A hotheaded deputy who was recorded slamming a man’s head against a car door in an attempt to pull him out through the window has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and assault under the color of authority.
Charles Blount was a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy when he tried to pull the man out of his car whom he suspected of stealing the car.
But David Ward was the owner of the car, he later found out.
By then, it was too late because Ward had stopped breathing, bodycam video shows.
Blount was one of several deputies who tried to pull Ward over on November 27, 2019 because his car had been reported stolen two days earlier.
But Ward had somehow recovered the car since reporting it stolen. However, when deputies tried to pull him over, he sped away, leading them on a pursuit.
When deputies got him to stop, they tried to pull him out of the car through the driver-side window but his foot got caught on the steering wheel.
That led to Blount slamming Ward’s head against the door, then placing him in a chokehold before another deputy, Jason Little, tasered him. When they finally pulled him out of the car, he was unconscious but breathing.
However, he stopped breathing moments later after a deputy informed Blount that he had spoken to Ward earlier in the evening and determined he was the rightful owner of the car.
“This is the owner of the car,” said Deputy Jax. “That’s David Ward. He’s the victim of the 215.”
“Then why did he run?” another deputy asked.
“I don’t know why he ran,” Deputy Jax responded. “He had no reason to run.”
A coroner said Ward had methamphetamine in his system which may be why he did not stop at first but that was not what killed him.
Nevertheless, Blount’s attorney, Harry Stern, is confident his client will be vindicated, according to the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat.
“In my view the grand jury was partly correct: Deputy Blount did not intentionally cause Mr. Ward’s death,” Stern said in an email statement.
Involuntary manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice but done without due caution and circumspection.
“The evidence will prove that he died due to a lethal level of methamphetamine abuse which, in turn, presumably caused him to lead officers on a high speed pursuit and then violently resist efforts to arrest him including biting two deputies,” Stern said.
“Deputy Blount’s actions were forceful but ultimately lawful under the circumstances. Mr. Ward’s death is unfortunate, sad and unnecessary and I again extend my sympathies to his family,” he said.
A Marin County coroner investigation ruled Ward’s death was a homicide, saying he died from cardiorespiratory collapse, blunt impact injuries, neck restraint and the use of a Taser caused by a “physical confrontation with law enforcement.”
Blount resigned in February to avoid termination and the case was brought before a grand jury consisting of 19 members last month which determined he should be charged. Blount, 61, turned himself in on November 2 and was released on a $50,000 bond. He will be arraigned Thursday. Read the press release from the Somona County District Attorney’s Office.
The shortened, edited video above is disturbing. The full nine-minute video can be viewed in our initial story on this incident from last year posted below.