Video released: Milwaukee man arrested in Racine after allegedly fighting deputies during traffic stop

Video released: Milwaukee man arrested in Racine after allegedly fighting deputies during traffic stop

Updated: 7:49 p.m. on Aug. 18, 2022

RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- On Thursday, Aug. 18, the Racine County Sheriff's Office released new video of a use of force arrest after a suspect tried to get away from deputies the day before.

After pulling over a Milwaukee man for speeding, a sheriff's K-9 detected drugs, and the suspect tried to get away.

The sheriff called the encounter violent and dangerous, and put the blame solely on the suspect. The video released is only a small portion of the entire encounter.

No deputies were seriously injured, but the sheriff says it could have been a lot worse.

Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said, "It's violent. He's struggling, he's on the ground with our deputies, he's violently pulling away."

Sheriff Schmaling said it didn't have to be that way. 24-year-old Hezekiah Saffold was pulled over for speeding Wednesday morning on I-94.

Body camera video shows the encounter.

It started when deputies first noticed Saffold moving a backpack from the front passenger seat to the back seat. The sheriff said they're trained to be aware of anything that could conceal a weapon.

A loaded Glock was later found in the backpack with an extended magazine and a round in the chamber.

Sheriff Schmaling said, "Had he been able to access that, again, I would be standing before this community today having a much different conversation."

When the deputies ran Saffold's information, they learned he had past convictions for armed robbery and possession of cocaine and heroin. They requested a K-9 to sniff the car.

As deputies explained the speeding ticket to Saffold, the K-9 smelled drugs in the car, and they tried to arrest him.

The video shows the struggle. Several deputies tried to get Saffold to comply, and the K-9 even bit him.

But Saffold still got away and ran into traffic to get back into his car at the same time a deputy hopped in and shut it off.

Sheriff Schmaling said, "Had he put that vehicle into drive, you can imagine dragging a deputy sheriff down the roadway. That would have been, very quickly, a deadly force situation."

Trying to stop Saffold was a challenge. Deputies tried pepper spray, and five times they used a taser. But because of the struggle it did not fully incapacitate Saffold.

Sheriff Schmaling said, "It is incredibly dangerous. We need to use just enough force to overcome that individual's resistance towards us."

Several deputies were eventually able to handcuff him and take him into custody. Sheriff Schmaling said his deputies handled the entire situation the right way. "After feeling chilled after watching this video multiple times, I'm very proud of their actions. I feel they used just enough force to overcome his aggressive, violent actions."

Cash and cocaine were also found in the backpack.

Saffold is in jail after he was first treated at the hospital for his injuries. He is now facing several charges, including recklessly endangering the safety of the deputies.

Published: 5:49 p.m. on Aug. 18, 2022

RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Deputies arrested a 24-year-old Milwaukee man in Racine Wednesday, Aug. 17, following a traffic stop they say turned violent.

According to the Racine County Sheriff's Office, two deputies stopped a rented Kia Soul for traveling 91 mph in a 70 mph zone around 11:18 a.m. The driver, identified as Hezekiah Saffold, stopped next to the inside wall on I-94 northbound near 7-Mile Road.

Deputies observed a backpack on the front passenger seat, within the man's reach. Upon returning to their squad, the deputies saw Saffold move the backpack to the backseat on the passenger side of the vehicle. 

A criminal background check showed Saffold was previously convicted of possessing drugs with intent to deliver, as well as obstructing an officer, armed robbery, felony bail jumping and operating a vehicle without owner's consent. 

Deputies requested a nearby sheriff's deputy and his K-9 partner to respond and perform an open-air sniff of the vehicle. 

The deputies asked Saffold to step outside, and he complied, stepping to the rear of the vehicle. Officials say while speaking with Saffold, the K-9 positively alerted on the vehicle for the presence of contraband and the deputies ordered Saffold to place his hands behind his back. 

Authorities say Saffold ignored the order, pulled away and ran back toward the driver's door of his vehicle. A deputy then tackled Saffold to the ground while the K-9 bit Saffold, however the man was still able to get to his feet. Officials say the K-9 let go and Saffold ran into traffic to get into the passenger side of the vehicle. A deputy then entered the driver's side and pushed the button to turn off the car. 

Saffold then reportedly got into the driver's side and tried to start the vehicle. The K-9 again bit the man and a Taser was deployed without affect. Deputies say they continued to physically struggle with the man who they say was assaulting them and trying to escape. 

After numerous attempts to apprehend the man with the use of deployed OC spray, a Taser, K-9 assistance, and the help of a Wisconsin state trooper, Saffold continued to fight with law enforcement. Additional deputies later arrived on scene and were eventually able to force the man into handcuffs. 

Officials say Saffold was medically treated for the OC spray. Deputies suffered scrapes and bruises but no law enforcement officers were seriously injured. Saffold was taken to the hospital, medically cleared and then transported to the Racine County Jail.

In a search of Saffold's vehicle, deputies recovered two electronic scales. In the backpack, deputies found the following:

  • A loaded, Glock 19, 9mm handgun with an extended magazine containing 25 rounds plus one round in the chamber
  • An empty magazine
  • 2.1 grams of cocaine
  • 6 pills of amphetamines
  • 4 cellphones
  • $1,175 of US currency    

Sheriff Schmaling stated, “I want to publicly thank all law enforcement officers, especially Racine deputy sheriffs, who put their lives on the line each and every day to protect the community. I also appreciate the assistance of the Wisconsin State Patrol in taking this dangerous, violent, armed, drug dealing, criminal into custody. The courageous actions displayed today by the deputies would not be possible without the strong support from County Executive Jonathan Delagrave and the members of the Racine County Board: They ensure the sheriff’s office is adequately staffed, appropriately equipped, and professionally trained.  At the end of the day, the sheriff’s office is committed to serving the community, prevailing when attacked, and safely going home to our loved ones.”

Authorities say Saffold is being held at the Racine County Jail on the following charges, which carry a bail amount of $99,500:

  • 1st Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety – four counts
  • Resisting an Officer – four counts
  • Harassment of a Service Dog
  • Possession of a Firearm by a Felon
  • Carrying a Concealed Weapon
  • Possession with Intent to Deliver – Cocaine
  • Possession of a Schedule II Narcotic
  • Possession of a Prescription Drug without Valid Prescription
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia 

On Thursday, the sheriff's office released a video clip from the use of force incident "in the interest of being transparent." They noted that the entire video will not be released at this time due to an ongoing investigation. 

You can watch the clip below. View discretion is advised.

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