Newly released body camera video reveals deputies in Warren County, Virginia, slammed a 77-year-old man into a pickup truck and tackled him to the ground. He died 13 days later.
The Warren County Sheriff's Office originally said Ralph Ennis had fallen over the trailer hitch of his truck and hit his head during the arrest on April 2 outside a 7-Eleven near Front Royal. Deputies had pulled him over for driving erratically and speeding, authorities said.
The sheriff's office said Ennis had non-life threatening injuries after the fall.
However, body camera video from a Front Royal police officer who was at the scene shows a Warren County deputy run toward Ennis, who appeared to be stumbling around. The deputy then grabs Ennis and slams him face-forward into the back of Ennis' red pickup truck, which had a camper top attached. Then, he and another deputy appear to tackle Ennis to the ground.
"Get on the ground!" one deputy is heard yelling.
During the tackle, Ennis and the deputies appear to trip over the truck's trailer hitch.
The Front Royal officer can be heard saying in the body camera video, "That was … unjust and … un[expletive] called for."
Medics took Ennis to a hospital. Ennis’ wife Linda Ennis said doctors told her he had a brain bleed. He died on April 15.
She said the body camera video showed a different situation than what the sheriff's office had previously told her.
"It was very difficult to watch. I wish that I hadn't watched it now," she said.
Linda Ennis said her late husband had recently begun struggling with dementia and was the subject of a Silver Alert in mid-March.
Warren County Sheriff Mark Butler told News4 he stands by the initial statement his office released.
The Front Royal officer's report said, however, the deputy "jerked the male around" and "slammed the male into the camper top face first."
"It was way overkill. Just - none of that was necessary," Linda Ennis said.
The medical examiner has not released Ennis' cause of death.
The Warren County Sheriff’s Office said deputies began following Ralph Ennis that morning because he was going 63 in a 55 and driving erratically. The sheriff's office said he didn’t come to stop until about 4 miles.
Ennis followed commands to get out of the truck, but then refused orders to drop his keys and put his hands behind his back, the sheriff's office said.
Virginia State Police are investigating the arrest.