Thursday, June 09, 2016

An unnecessary death: Disabled vet killed by vehicle extraction technique

Grits has been spending  time lately learning to edit video and, for practice, put together this little 2.5 minute segment on the death of Slade Sullivan in 2014 at the hands of the Round Rock PD, mainly because the missus had recently acquired footage and related documents under the Public Information Act. Amanda Woog narrated the piece.

Sullivan, a disabled veteran, was subjected to a "double arm bar takedown" face down from his truck to the pavement, breaking his back in multiple places. He was paralyzed and ultimately died from his injuries five months after the incident. Check out this short video Grits prepared about the episode.

The Austin Chronicle reported that "Sullivan's death highlights how an officer's cavalier use of force can turn fatal when used on a person with health problems." The Statesman had earlier published an excerpt of the dashcam video.

Here's a story from the Killeen Daily Herald about the episode and a lawsuit Sullivan filed against RRPD before his death. The Killeen paper also reported on his death. In his obituary, it was mentioned that his military service had been cut short by a back injury.

Check out a RRPD police report which indicated that officers were trained in this vehicle extraction technique, referred to in the report as "Points of Domination" training. Points of Domination is a term developed in a military context in Iraq and Afghanistan for clearing buildings in urban warfare settings. The report also indicates that Sullivan told the arresting officer his back was injured before they pulled him from the vehicle.

Here's the autopsy and another report from the Texas Rangers.

This episode was a needless tragedy. Sullivan's death points to how quickly law enforcement tends to resort to violent tactics in situations where deescalation is possible.


Jim Turner said...

Brings to mind another Army quote. You fight like you train.

Anonymous said...

Prevented a DUI and possible death of innocent other people ... good job PD. Grits stop apologizing for criminals.

Jim Turner said...

So prevention of some theoretical possible death justifies a clearly preventable and unnecessary death. The DUI and possible death of innocent other people was prevented when the officers arrived on the scene. Any number of actions were available at that point that would have resulted in no deaths or injuries.

thelawproject said...

This is the inevitable result of the anti-terrorist (you & me) training by such NGO's as GILEE
out of Georgia State University law enforcement exchange program. In the hands of borderline sociopath's it's a deadly tool. The female officer who approaches the vehicle draws her weapon
without regard to any assessment of the situation. How can you feel safe on the street's with any of these Officer's on the job?

Anonymous: Don't be a punk and a law enforcement poser: PUBLISH YOUR NAME !

David White (aka Caged Monkey #12) said...

So DWI (not DUI) is a capital offense so grave that we don't even need to have due process?

Here's a guy who obviously obese and drunk. The first cop has his gun already pointed at him, the lady cop walks up with gun drawn and puts it away as does the other cop. They would not have holstered the guns had they still perceived a threat.

They escalated the situation by first drawing guns and yanking him out of the car. I've been around plenty of drunk people, if they're not acting belligerent as this man wasn't, you can usually wait them out. God forbid these cops take an extra 10 or 20 minutes to handle this.

At best this guy was under suspicion for public intoxication and maybe disorderly conduct. BOTH misdemeanors.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@David White. In the full video, a supervisor came to the scene and told one of the officers the most they could charge Sullivan with was public intoxication and possibly (a bogus charge of) resisting arrest.

Baron_of_Greymatter said...

It's good to see that the Austin Chronicle opposes police long as it happens in Williamson County.