A man sustained a potentially critical neck injury during a traffic stop in Prince George’s County, Maryland, after he fell to the ground as police tried to stop him from running away.
NBC Washington identified the man as Demonte Ward-Blake. Relatives said he is partially paralyzed from the waist down from injuries to his spinal cord, according to NBC Washington. He also had a broken nose.
The incident happened Thursday around 5:30 p.m. on the 4700 block of Wheeler Road in Oxon Hill. Police saw a car driving with expired registration tags, and pulled the driver over.
Prince George’s County police spokeswoman Jennifer Donelan said in a news conference on Friday that some of what happened next was caught on the officer’s dash camera.
Upon approaching the vehicle, the officer saw a child, about 6 years old, in the back seat and smelled marijuana emanating from the car, Donelan said.
The officer asked the 24-year-old male driver if there was marijuana in the car. The man said he smoked marijuana earlier in the day, but he did not say there was marijuana in the car.
Upon being asked, the suspect gave the officer his name and said that he had a learner’s permit. The officer ran the suspect’s information and found that he was on probation for driving on a suspended driver’s license.
The officer approached the suspect vehicle a second time. While the officer tried to get the vehicle identification number, Donelan said the suspect became irate — screaming and yelling at police.
Donelan said the driver then moved his hands to the center console. The officer asked him to place his hands on the wheel but the driver refused. This happened several times, all the while the driver is screaming and yelling, Donelan said.
The officer went back to his patrol car and called for back up, waiting in the cruiser until two other officers arrived.
The three officers “peacefully” removed the driver from the car. Police padded him down and put him in handcuffs.
Donelan said that one of the officers saw a knife in the center console and, because the suspect was driving on a suspended license, police knew they were going to arrest him at that point.
A woman who showed up at the scene took custody of the child, a little girl. Donelan said the woman can be heard on camera asking the driver to calm down as he got out of the car.
As the driver was led away from his car into the police vehicle, he was out of view of the camera, Donelan said.
While being searched before getting into the police car, the driver — who has his hands behind his back — struck the officer who was searching him in the head with his left elbow, according to Donelan.
Donelan said the driver tried to get away and repeatedly hit the officer at the same time. In an effort to stop him, the officer, in a takedown procedure, grabbed the suspect on his left arm to keep him from escaping and to get him down on the ground.
The driver fell to the ground and hit his neck on the road. Police called for an ambulance when the driver said he was in pain.
Donelan said the driver has undergone surgery for what could be a potentially critical injury. He is in stable condition.
Police found a knife in the car and approximately 30 grams of marijuana. The officer who took the suspect down has been assigned to administrative duty, but his police powers have not been suspended.
The arrest warrant for the driver has not yet been served due to the surgery, but it includes resisting arrest, attempting to escape, second-degree assault and possession of marijuana, Donelan said.
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