A man who died last week after being shocked with a stun gun and put in a neck hold by Northern California sheriff’s deputies who suspected him of carjacking actually owned the car and he had reported it stolen days earlier, authorities said.
David Glen Ward, 52, of Petaluma, did not tell Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies and police officers from the city of Sebastopol who pulled him over that he got the car back, said Lt. Dan Marincik of the Santa Rosa Police Department, which is investigating Ward’s death.
An autopsy was being conducted to determine how he died.
A deputy tried to pull over Ward last Wednesday but he fled, setting off a pursuit, Marincik said. Two Sebastopol officers also responded, and the two patrol cars boxed him in. Another deputy arrived, and the four ordered Ward to open the door. He wouldn’t but eventually rolled down the window, Marincik said.
A deputy tried to remove Ward through the window. When shocking him with a stun gun didn’t subdue him, another deputy used a hold where pressure is applied on the sides of the neck, cutting off blood flow to the brain and causing a temporary loss of consciousness, authorities said.
Shortly after an officer opened the passenger door, dragged Ward out and handcuffed him, he began having trouble breathing. An officer performed CPR, and Ward was rushed to a hospital, where he died, Marincik said.
Authorities were working on releasing body camera footage. The sheriff’s office also will investigate to determine if deputies followed policy, Marincik said.
Ward’s half-sister, Catherine Aguilera, said her brother used drugs and had difficulty breathing and walking and other health issues that began 20 years ago when a drunken driver hit him while he was riding a motorcycle.
In the last couple of years, he also developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and a heart condition, said Aguilera, of Monroe, Washington. Ward had to carry an oxygen tank and use a walker or a wheelchair to get around, she said.
“Police initially said he ran from the car, but there is no way he would have been able to get out of the car and run,” she said.
Aguilera said a neighbor told her Ward had gone to get the car after someone told him where it was. He was likely heading home when police stopped him, she said.
She said she wonders if he was having a medical emergency and trying to get home to his oxygen tank.
“We have so many questions, and we also wonder if there was another option,” Aguilera said. “Could they have brought in a bit of humanity and consider that maybe he was under duress?”