Excessive force lawsuit filed after Virginia man’s death

October 2, 2022 GMT

FRONT ROYAL, Va. (AP) — The son of a 77-year-old man who died after sustaining injuries during a traffic stop in Virginia earlier this year has filed a $6 million lawsuit that alleges the deputies involved in his father’s arrest used excessive force.

The civil complaint from Ian Ennis, the son and administrator of the estate of the late Ralph Ennis, was filed in federal court in August, The Northern Virginia Daily reported last week.

The defendants, Warren County sheriff’s deputies Tyler Poe and Zachary Fadley, have filed separate responses to the lawsuit, denying any allegations of misconduct and asking that the lawsuit be dismissed, according to the newspaper.

Ralph Ennis died in hospice care in April, nearly two weeks after being injured during the traffic stop. Virginia State Police launched an investigation into the incident earlier this year.

The sheriff’s office has previously said deputies began following Ralph Ennis early on April 2 after he was observed speeding and driving erratically. After initially failing to stop during a chase that covered nearly 4 miles (6 kilometers), Ennis drove and parked his truck at a convenience store near Front Royal, according to the sheriff’s office.

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The complaint, which says Ralph Ennis suffered from dementia and cites body camera footage of the incident, says the deputies used excessive force against him when they slammed him face-first into his vehicle and then tackled him to the ground after he was already restrained. That caused a traumatic and ultimately fatal brain injury, the complaint says.

The office of the state medical examiner, however, ruled in August that Ralph Ennis died of natural causes and an official declined to comment on the head injuries, the newspaper has previously reported.

The lawsuit seeks $5 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages, plus fees and costs.