(CN) — A Black former police detective who suffered severe injuries when a sheriff’s deputy “intentionally swerved” at him and ran him over with a truck sued the officer for damages in Kansas federal court.
Lionel Womack claims deputy Jeremy Rodriguez’s actions were intentional and violated his constitutional rights.
The Aug. 15 events that led to the lawsuit can be seen in a graphic dashcam video posted by The Associated Press. The footage shows the 35-year-old Womack fleeing, shirtless and unarmed, through an open field with multiple police trucks in pursuit.
Before that, police pulled Womack for an alleged traffic violation while returning from a business trip to promote his security firm. Kiowa County, where the incident occurred, is in rural southwestern Kansas, about a two-hour drive from Wichita.
Womack, a former police detective from Kansas City, Kansas, stopped his car on a dirt road and exited his vehicle.
“Because Mr. Womack was scared he would be harmed by the officers pursuing him, he started running on foot into a nearby open farm field,” Womack says in his lawsuit, filed Thursday.
At that point, as the video documents, one sheriff department truck — recording with its dash-mounted camera — trailed behind in the field while another pulled up next to Womack, swerved into him with its left-front bumper, then ran him over with its left-front tire.
As Womack lay under the truck injured, officers can be heard shouting, “Stay down!”
Medical personnel then took Womack to Pratt Regional Medical Center for treatment of injuries to his back, pelvis, thigh, knee, ankle and foot.
Rodriguez — the sole defendant in the case — remains employed by the Kiowa County sheriff’s office, according to the lawsuit.
Kiowa County Sheriff Chris Tedder did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Womack seeks punitive and exemplary damages on civil rights claims of excessive force and due process.
According to the suit, Rodriguez “intentionally swerved his patrol truck so that the truck hit Mr. Womack” and that Rodriguez used “his patrol truck to run over Mr. Womack’s body where no reasonable officer would have done so.”
Womack claims Rodriguez is not entitled to qualified immunity as he “violated clearly established law regarding the use of excessive force.”
Michael J. Kuckelman of the Overland Park firm Kuckelman Torline Kirkland represent Womack.
Womack remains jailed on felony charges of attempting to elude a law enforcement officer and interference with a police officer. He also faces several misdemeanor traffic citations stemming from the incident.