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WCSO strives for full transparency on death of subject

Warren County Sheriff's Office

An email from Major Jeff Driskill of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) strives for complete transparency involving the death of  man in a traffic stop.

A Warren County Sheriff’s Deputy followed a vehicle driving erratically down Winchester Road doing 63 in a 55 mile per hour zone.

After initial attempts to stop the vehicle failed the Deputy followed the offender.

The Deputy observed the vehicle’s movements consistent with someone driving impaired.

After approximately 4 miles  assistance was requested from the Front Royal Police Department to use stop sticks if needed.

The vehicle then illegally entered a convenience store parking lot near the intersection of Routes 522 and 66.

The driver stopped and did exit the vehicle being identified as 77 year old Ralph C. Ennis of  Gainsville Virginia.

Ennis failed to stop moving towards Deputies despite commands to stop.

A Deputy tried to control Ennis by approaching from behind.

Two Deputies and the suspect fell over the protruding trailer hitch at the back of Ennis’s vehicle.

Ennis sustained non-life threatening injuries a cut to the ring finger of his right hand along with a cut above his right brow at his forehead which was treated immediately.

Ennis was placed upright was conscious and responding to questions when he was taken to Warren Memorial Hospital.

A deputy was also treated and released from the hospital after treatment for his minor injuries.

At Warren Memorial Hospital doctors conversing with Ennis determined he was exhibiting signs of a hemorrhage and was transferred to Winchester Medical Center for further evaluation.

While in Winchester it became apparent that Ennis was showing signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s and assistance was sought from Northwestern Community Services.

During further investigation it was found that Ennis was reported as missing on March 11 and later located in Front Royal.

Talking with Ennis’s family it was found he had a history of mental illness and dementia.

On April 15 it was learned that Ennis had passed away under the care of Blue Ridge Hospice in Winchester.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office has requested a full medical examination with the knowledge and support of the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.

The actual cause of death is pending the official notification by the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Meanwhile the Warren County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an internal investigation of the incident.

Warren County Sheriff Mark Butler wants the public to know they are being as proactive and transparent as possible in this investigation.

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