PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. — A 24-year-old man is paralyzed from the waist down, according to family, after a traffic stop in Prince George's County resulted in a takedown Thursday.
Prince George's County police said an officer stopped Demonte Ward-Blake as he was driving along the 4700 block of Wheeler Road when the policeman saw that some tags were expired.
Police said when the officer approached the car, he could smell marijuana asked Ward-Blake if he had drugs in the vehicle.
Police said he told him he had smoked earlier in the day.
They said the officer also noticed that there was a young girl in the backseat.
During the stop, Ward-Blake kept reaching toward his center console, according to officials. When the officer grabbed his gun as a defensive measure, he started screaming, according to police.
That's when police said the officer called for backup. When two other police officers arrived, they placed the 24-year-old in handcuffs, according to officials.
Police said the officer later noticed there was a knife in the console.
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They said Ward-Blake resisted and elbowed an officer. Then, the officer reported that he used a technique to bring the suspect to the ground. Police and Ward-Blake's girlfriend said he landed on his neck, which they noticed caused him serious injury.
Police said he was then rushed to the hospital, where he underwent surgery for much of Saturday. His girlfriend posted on Instagram that he was paralyzed from the waist down and suffered a broken nose during the arrest.
"I have no information that leads me to believe that this is anything other than a horrible, horrible accident," Chief Henry Stawinski said.
The chief said they are mounting a two-prong investigation into what happened. The first is routine for any incident where force is used.
The other involves a special internal investigation, since the man involved was seriously injured.
"We are deeply concerned because it doesn’t matter how someone comes into our custody," Stawinski said. "This is not an acceptable outcome."
The county executive said the government will take whatever action is necessary based on the outcome of the investigation.
"Nobody expects that you will be arrested and end up with a grievous injury like this one," County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said. "This is an unanticipated outcome, and as the chief has said, we accept as well and understand that anyone we take into our custody is our responsibility.”
Police said there are currently multiple warrants out for Ward-Blake, including resisting arrest, attempting to escape, second-degree assault, and marijuana possession.
Stawinski said the investigation will determine whether or not those warrants stand in light of his condition.