Petaluma man mistaken for car thief dies after being restrained

Bay Area

SONOMA COUNTY (KRON) — A Petaluma man who was driving a car that he had reported stolen died last week after being tased and restrained by deputies in Sebastopol.

52-year-old David Glen Ward died on Nov. 27 after a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy placed him in a carotid restraint, authorities said. 

Ward was driving his own vehicle which he had reported stolen days earlier, but never told police he had found it. 

Police also say the suspect in the initial theft of the vehicle on Nov. 24 was armed with a gun. 

At 5:54 a.m. on Nov. 27, authorities say Ward led a deputy and two Sebastopol police officers on a chase through part of Sonoma County.

When the pursuit ended, police say Ward did not follow their orders to open the door.

“They [had] given Mr. Ward orders to put his hands in the air,” Lt. Dan Marincik with Santa Rosa Police told KRON4. “He put his hands up and down. He was not complying.  So at one point they approached him from the drivers side, he didn’t exit and they tried to remove him from the drivers window and a struggle ensued.”

This led to a confrontation that ended with a deputy tasing him and another putting him a carotid restraint, police said.

Officers were then able to remove Ward from the vehicle and place him in handcuffs. 

At 6:10 a.m., a deputy told dispatch that Ward did not appear to be breathing and they began to administer CPR. 

Ward was rushed to Petaluma Valley Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 7:17 a.m. 

“There’s often times when multiple uses of force need to be done to get someone into custody,” Marincik said. “In terms of this case the ultimate determiner of whether the use of force complied with the law is the district attorneys office.”

Family tells KRON4 Ward was disabled from a car accident that happened about 15 years ago and was unable to get out of the car.

“Why were they so rough with him?  Tasering him and that hold, it makes me want to cry. He was disabled.  He couldn’t get out of the car.  It would take him ten minutes.  His body was broken,” his mother said.

The mother said her son suffered from a heart problem.

“He had a heart problem, a hole in his heart. He sat in a wheelchair most of the time and had to take oxygen. And when they put the hold on him, I assume they cut off his oxygen,” she said.

The investigation is still on going and anyone with additional information regarding this incident is asked to call the Violent Crimes Investigations Team at (707) 543-3590.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office will be doing an administrative review to determine if deputies followed policies during this incident.

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