Trooper v. EMT Encounter Results in Attorney Media Battle
An Oklahoma state Trooper is under fire, figuratively anyway, after possibly picking the wrong vehicle to pull over. In an incident last month, Trooper Daniel Martin was responding to a call for backup when he says an ambulance failed to yield to him, and worse, Martin thought he saw the driver flip him "an obscene gesture". So he pulled over the ambulance for failing to yield. But that's when things may have gotten a bit out of hand because it turns out that the ambulance was taking a patient to the hospital, the AP reports.
After the traffic stop, paramedic Maurice White Jr. jumped out of the back and demanded that Martin talk to him, and not the driver of the vehicle. Well, to make a long story short, things escalated and Martin ended up trying to arrest paramedic White, all while a patient sat in the back of the ambulance.
Fortunately for Trooper Martin, the patient in the ambulance appears to have ended up no worse for wear from the incident, as she got to the hospital, received treatment and was later released. But the more troubling release, at least for Trooper Martin, was that of cell phone video the patient's son took of the incident.
That video, plus more later released from the trooper's car dashboard cam, now has Martin's attorney, Gary James, working damage control, while his client has been placed on paid leave while an investigation is conducted. According to the AP story, Martin's attorney says the trooper "didn't realize there was a patient in the ambulance until well after the situation had intensified. He either didn't hear it or it didn't register." At the same time, however, the AP noted the video shows paramedic White repeatedly telling Trooper Martin they had a patient they needed to get to the hospital (prior to the scuffle and arrest attempt).
Still, according to Martin's attorney, the laws "allows an officer to pull over an ambulance if its emergency lights and sirens aren't running, as was the case in this incident." Well, even if the traffic stop may have been legal, it might not be as clear whether what came after was permissible (it should probably be noted here that White didn't get arrested, after all was said and done).
Paramedic White's attorney, Richard O'Carroll, disputed James's statements and blamed Martin for the incident. Responding to bruises Trooper Martin allegedly suffered he said, "[White] was lawfully behaving against an unlawful action and in this state, that's appropriate...In Oklahoma, what we call a Wild West state, if the policeman's actions are inappropriate, you have a right to reasonably resist." O'Carroll followed up, "[g]iven Trooper Martin's attitude on this, I believe that I am going to have to instruct him as to what is right and what is wrong in this state", but it is still unclear whether a lawsuit will be filed in this incident.
This News on 6 story linked below has a comprehensive lineup of links to videos, report, and statements by various parties in the matter.
- AP: Attorney defends trooper in Okla. ambulance stop (Yahoo! News)
- The News On 6: Paramedic's Attorney Responds To OHP Trooper's Attorney [Related Links, Videos] (www.newson6.com)
- KTUL: EMT In Confrontation With Trooper Speaks Out
- Paramedic's Statement on Incident [PDF] (KTUL)
- Why Were You Stopped? (provided by Hinkle, Jachimowicz, Pointer & Emanuel)
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: No citations for giving the finger to police, judge says (www.post-gazette.com)
- Traffic Tickets Center (FindLaw)
- Fla. Traffic Violations and Professional Drivers (provided by Stone & Associates, P.A.)