Four law enforcement officers have been placed on administrative review after a California man died after being placed in a chokehold when he was pulled over for driving his own “stolen” vehicle, reports said.
The bizarre chain of events took place when David Glen Ward, 52, was driving his car around 5:40 a.m. last Wednesday and was stopped by cops in Sonoma County, Buzzfeed News reported.
Three days earlier, Ward had reported that his Honda Civic was stolen at gunpoint — but neglected to tell cops that he had found it, officials said.
An off-duty Santa Rosa Police detective spotted the car and notified the Sonoma County Sherrif’s Office, the Press Democrat reported.
A Sonoma County deputy — and two Sebastopol police officers — responded and tried to pull Ward over about 10 minutes later, the paper said.
Officials said in a news release that Ward initially stopped — but abruptly sped off, leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase.
Cops were eventually able to stop Ward’s vehicle. But as cops tried pulling him out of the window, Ward bit one of the officers, the release said.
One officer used a Taser on Ward, then another placed him in the restraint hold through the window and he was handcuffed, officials said.
The hold caused Ward to become unresponsive. He died at Petaluma Valley Hospital, officials said.
One of the deputies called dispatchers at 6:10 a.m. to report that Ward had stopped breathing.
Chokeholds, also known as carotid restraints, are permitted by trained deputies in the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office when a suspect is violently resisting arrest, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The sheriff’s office does not consider it a chokehold because it does not restrict airflow when properly applied.
“It’s not considered deadly force at all,” Sgt. Juan Valencia told the Chronicle.
Ward’s mother told the Press Democrat that he had “a hard life” and suffered from health conditions that required an oxygen tank.
The Santa Rosa Police Department is investigating the death and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office is conducting its own internal investigation.
Neck restraints and chokeholds have been controversial since Daniel Pantaleo came under fire and was ultimately dismissed for using such a restraint on Eric Garner.
In 2017, a Las Vegas police officer was arrested for using a carotid restraint that caused the choking death of an unarmed man.