Deputy shown on video running over driver now works at Kansas prison, attorney says

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BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — The attorney for a Black man who was run over by a Kansas deputy in an encounter caught on dashcam video says he was shocked to learn the deputy is now employed as a master sergeant at the Hutchinson prison while under criminal investigation.

Lionel Womack, who is from Kansas City, Kansas, alleges in an excessive force lawsuit filed last year that Kiowa County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Rodriguez intentionally drove over him in August 2020. Rodriguez has denied he intentionally swerved his truck to run over him.

The Kiowa County Sheriff’s Office placed Deputy Jeremy Wilkerson-Rodriguez on unpaid administrative leave on Jan. 11, in regard to a chase.

Video obtained from Pratt County authorities earlier this year shows a vehicle, which appears to be driven by Womack, leading multiple law enforcement vehicles on an extended chase after refusing to stop. Video from a Pratt County deputy shows an attempt to pull over Womack’s vehicle. The driver ignores the attempt and a pursuit ensues.

About eight minutes into the video, you see one of Womack’s tires blow out, likely from hitting a spike device that can be seen in the video. Soon after, sparks pour from one or more of his rims.

Womack then turns on his hazard lights. Squad cars keep passing the erratic vehicle to warn on-coming drivers that someone is approaching in the wrong lane. About a half hour into the pursuit, a temporary license plate falls off the vehicle before it turns down a dirt road in Kiowa County. That’s when Womack appears to leave his car and jump over a small fence. A patrol truck — the same one that later runs over Womack — runs over that same fence.

Michael Kuckelman, Womack’s attorney in his civil rights case, said the deputy driving that vehicle used excessive and unreasonable deadly force.

He said that’s a true fact — pursuit or not.

Kuckelman urged Kansas prison officials to discuss the ongoing criminal investigations with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

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