Virginia

Virginia State Police Investigate Death of 77-Year-Old Man Who Hit His Head During Arrest

NBC Universal, Inc.

Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reports on the investigation into the death of 77-year-old Ralph Ennis in Warren County.

An investigation is underway into the treatment of a 77-year-old man who died after he hit his head during an arrest in Warren County, Virginia.

Ralph Ennis’ wife Linda Ennis said her late husband was a Navy veteran and worked for years in Northern Virginia as a bricklayer.

But Ennis had recently begun struggling with dementia and was the subject of a Silver Alert in mid-March, Linda Ennis said.

His unexpected death has left her with many questions.

In a phone interview with News4, she said his sudden death after hitting his head during an arrest has left her with many questions.

"I don't know what happened. I want to know what happened. So I guess it's just a waiting game now," she said from her home in Breezewood, Pennsylvania.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office says deputies began following Ralph Ennis in the early morning hours of April 2. He was driving 63 in a 55 and driving erratically, deputies said. They said he didn’t pull over.

Local

Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia local news, events and information

Hurricane Ian, Jan. 6 Hearings and Porchfest: The News4 Rundown

How to Prepare Your Garden, Front Porch for Fall

Ennis finally stopped his pickup truck at a 7-Eleven near Front Royal.

He 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.

When deputies advanced, he reportedly tripped on a trailer hitch and fell to the ground, hitting his head.

Medics took Ennis to a hospital. That’s when Linda Ennis said she got the first frightening call.

"At that point, the hospital discovered that Ralph had a brain bleed and they were transferring him … to Winchester Trauma," she said.

Linda was in the hospital herself recovering from a surgery.

Unable to visit her husband, she got the terrible news on April 15 that he had died.

Now, Virginia State Police are investigating to find out whether Warren County deputies handled the arrest properly, and whether the injuries led to Ralph Ennis’ death.

"Yeah, of course I worry he was mistreated. You hear it all the time. I’m not down on the police. I'm all for the guys in blue. … He was older and they could definitely tell that. Just looking at the man, you could tell he was an older gentleman," Linda Ennis said.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office issued a detailed press release last week on the incident, but Sheriff Mark Butler declined additional comment and cited the ongoing state police investigation.