Report shows Kansas officer denied Black man was run over

An attorney representing a Black man who was run over by a sheriff’s patrol truck as he ran across a field says law enforcement authorities have engaged in a cover-up that began as soon as emergency medical personnel arrived

Via AP news wire
Saturday 19 December 2020 00:57
Man Run Over Deputy
Man Run Over Deputy

An attorney representing a Black man who was injured after being run over by a sheriff s patrol truck while running across a Kansas field said Friday that law enforcement authorities engaged in a cover-up that began as soon as emergency medical personnel arrived.

Lionel Womack, a 35-year-old former police detective from Kansas City, Kansas, alleges in a excessive force lawsuit filed Thursday that Kiowa County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Rodriguez intentionally drove over him during the Aug. 15 incident that was captured on dashcam video.

Womack says he sustained serious injuries to his back, pelvis, and right thigh, knee and foot.

Womack's attorney, Mike Kuckelman, released a copy of the report from the Kiowa County Emergency Medical Services. It shows that a law enforcement official who was at the scene told the paramedic that the patrol vehicle was chasing the man at around 5 mph in the field and that the man “veered in front of the vehicle” with the vehicle “tapping” him before he fell down on the ground screaming.

Kuckelman said Friday that the Kiowa County officer who gave medical responders the inaccurate account to paramedic Kaylan Jones was then-Kiowa County Undersheriff Scott McCann. The former undersheriff, who now works for the Harper Police Department, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Misleading the medical providers was “irresponsible” as it could have caused them to fail to provide Wolmack with necessary treatment, according to a letter Kuckelman sent Kiowa County Sheriff Chris Tedder. Still, medical providers took the injured man to the the Pratt County Regional Medical Center.

It is unclear when McCann arrived at the scene, but the EMT report noted that he talked to the paramedic after twice watching the video footage that came from the Kiowa County patrol truck that ran Womack down. That is not the same video as the dashcam video that came from a Pratt County vehicle which has been released. Kiowa County has not released its video, Kuckelman said.

The attorney says there is a dispute on multiple elements of the case. His client insists he wasn't speeding when the chase began, while the Kansas Highway Patrol has said it began the pursuit after observing a car traveling 101 mph (163 kph) in a 65 mph (105 kph) zone. Kuckelman speculated that there may have been a mistake in identifying the vehicle.

“We have a lot of inconsistencies in that regard but what I am going to point to in regard to my civil case is watch the video. There is no doubt they ran this man over with a pickup truck, although they denied it,” Kuckelman said. “He clearly was run over by a truck, and I don’t care how the other disputes are worked out — they had no right to use deadly force against Mr. Womack.”

Online court records also show Womack was charged Aug. 12 in Texas County, Oklahoma, with endangering others while eluding or attempting to elude police. He was extradited Thursday to Oklahoma, the soonest a prosecutor there said they were able to make arrangements to get him.

“What we did here in our office had absolutely nothing to do with any kind of lawsuit in the state of Kansas,” said Buddy Leach, first assistant district attorney in Texas County.

Leach said that law enforcement officials in Oklahoma received a citizen report that a vehicle was driving recklessly. The driver ignored lights and sirens, and the pursuit was called off for safety reasons when the entered the city of Liberal in Kansas. Womack was first arrested after he left the city limits, but Kansas officials released him despite a hold Oklahoma had put on him on the felony warrant for eluding police, Leach said.

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