Thursday, May 28, 2009

State Troopers Jack Up Black Paramedic Who's Doing His Job Taking Woman to Hospital

Incident in Paden, Okla. (Okfuskee County). When you watch the following videos that show one incident--Oklahoma State Troopers aka Oklahoma Highway Patrol slamming a trained African-American paramedic (EMT) against the side of the EMT's ambulance after stopping him while he was on the job--think about the BART shooting. The number of people who said it was important to know whether Oscar Grant, the man shot to death by a BART police officer, had a criminal record disturbed me because I believe it doesn't matter whether a black man is a bona fide criminal or a trained professional with a clean record, some police officers will treat him like an animal, especially if he doesn't show strict submission to the officers.

Two EMTs were on their way to take a black woman, accompanied by her adult son, Kenyada Davis, to the hospital Sunday. Davis caught the incident on his cell phone camera. In the video, you can hear Davis's mother screaming inside the ambulance. The officers stopped the EMTs for "failure to yield."

First is Davis's cell phone video. He tells the EMTs that he's getting them some evidence by recording the incident after the EMT tells him to not get involved. It's more disturbing than the CNN edited video farther down in the post. Near the end of Davis's video, his mother's husband steps in and tells the officers he just wants his wife to get some help.

If you read the statements of both the driver Paul Franks, and the EMT who you see being roughed up in the video, Maurice White, Jr., you can guess that what set one white police officer off in particular is his perception that one of the black men had flipped him the bird. That perception was enough for Oklahoma Highway Patrol officers to gang up, force the EMTs to stop, and to tell White to step out of the ambulance, not listen to his statement, and choke him against the vehicle. [Download or click and read Frank's statement here (PDF) and White's statement here (PDF). Updated: The Oklahoma Hwy Patrol claims to have its own footage showing White attacking the officers. Seems like they'd release that if it's true.]
Updated, 5/29, 4:27 AM:

OHP says before the home video was recording, the paramedic assaulted the state trooper. But, Diana Walkup says the paramedic never touched anyone until the patrolman grabbed his arm.

She says it was the trooper who was out of control.

"We thought, my God, is he going to pull a gun? That's really what we thought. We didn't know if he was fixing to pull a gun or what," said witness Diana Walkup.

So, who had the right of way? The Creek Nation admits the ambulance did not have on its lights and sirens, while the trooper had on his lights, but no sirens.

The News On 6 couldn't find anything that gives one emergency vehicle the right of way over another, but we did find one state law that says: "Every person who willfully emergency medical the performance and guilty of a misdemeanor." (NewsOn6)

I saw this story for the first time today (5/28) on CNN's Rick Sanchez show, and had been waiting for videos to post. The footage blew me away. Below the following video you'll see part of EMT White's account of what happened from WTUL, ABC Oklahoma. According to WTUL, White was "nearly" arrested.

White, who is a critical care EMT, says the troopers came up fast with lights on; however, he heard no siren. His partner, Paul Franks was driving. They pulled off to the side of the road.
White says as the trooper passed them, he made radio contact, telling Franks "you should consider checking your rearview mirrors".

White says a few blocks after this incident, another trooper entered the road at a high rate of speed, cutting in front of a car driven by a family member of the patient. White says he then saw another trooper approaching from the rear.

"As my partner was pulling onto the shoulder, the cruiser came alongside our unit and gestured for my driver to pull over," White says. "When the officer came to a complete stop behind the ambulance, I noticed a woman in the front seat. Based on the officer's erratic driving behavior, I thought that the woman in the front seat of the cruiser was in need of immediate medical attention; hence I exited the rear of the ambulance in order to assess the situation."

White says the officer was in a rage when he approached them and yelled "get your a-- back here! I am giving you a ticket for failure to yield." White says he told the trooper they had a patient in the ambulance and that they were on their way to the hospital.

"He ignored my statement, became even more belligerent, and demanded my partner come to his patrol car so he could write him a ticket," White says. "I calmly told the officer that we were transporting a patient and we could continue this at the hospital."

White says the trooper then approached him and shouted "you are under arrest for obstructing a police officer" and grabbed his arm to handcuff him. A brief struggle followed, at which point the trooper grabbed White by the throat. The cell phone captured this incident on video. (Visit KTUL . You can also read the full statements of Franks and White in the PDFs linked up top.)
This is, hmm, I don't have words for what this is quite yet, "black man choked while doing his job." CNN's description below the video calls it a shoving match, but I don't think that's what is was. I also think Rick Sanchez and Ashleigh Banfield laughed way too much commenting on it. But Banfield did say she smells a big, fat lawsuit.


Robert M said...

I posted this on Jack and Jill politics this morning after finding it on Field Negro. It is under morning thread where poster posts story on AA police officer shot by white cop in NYC.

Blue State Cowgirl said...

Asking if Oscar Grant had a record is like asking if a rape victim was wearing a short shirt. Regardless in either case, neither of them would deserve the crimes perpetrated on them.

What is this with the cops pulling over a CMT? I thought there was professional courtesy between police and emergency services staff.

The hypothetical question would be "What if the woman in the ambulance were bleeding out?"

Vérité Parlant said...

Thank you, Robert. On one hand I wasn't surprised to see the video, on the other hand I was like a person watching a long train wreck.

Lisa, that they showed no concern for the woman in the ambulance says a lot as well. And now the OHP is trying to say Maurice White attacked them first as though if that were true it justifies the troopers.

le0pard13 said...

What I don't understand, if I get the gist of this situation, is threatening to arrest EMT White for 'failure to yield'. Why do that when he's the EMT (in the cab) with the patient and not the one who's driving the vehicle? Plus, if White did actually attack first (prior to the pt. son's video recording), does anyone doubt he wouldn't already have been cuffed and in custody by this point in the incident? Where's OHP's video? If it exonerates the officers, it should be out there. Too many questions left unanswered here.

Vérité Parlant said...

LeO. I've been wondering the same thing. Franks was the driver. I suspect they went after White b/c this is really a macho thing of them thinking White disrespected them, which screams gang mentality.

The Feds need to look into what's up with the OHP. Is it just one or two wackos who they let get away with craziness or do they have systemic problem?

The "we have proof that somebody did something first" is a lame PR trick that plays well with stupid people, I think, which may be why they used it. They think the people who normally support them are stupid enough to believe whatever they say.

Revvy Rev said...

I don't know yet whether this is another police gone wild issue or if it is the manifestation of the rapidly expanding "Negroes have no titles, positions, authority, competencies, or professional designations or duties" club that is becoming more and more visible in this country.

Good and plenty said...

I echo the idea of the last commenter that this looks like "the manifestation of the rapidly expanding "Negroes have no titles, positions, authority, competencies, or professional designations or duties" club that is becoming more and more visible in this country."
In so many cases, it seem that White officers can't believe that a Black man is anything but a criminal no matter his demeanor, if he's in uniform, etc. This saddens me so. I don't think I'll ever be able to exhale on police brutality against Black men as the mother of a Black son and the wife of a Black father. Not even Obama's election eases this feeling and, in fact, his election may have created reactionary anger among certain Whites.