Monday, June 15, 2009

Choked for Challenging: OHP Trooper Defense on Black EMT Incident

The attorney for Daniel Martin, the Oklahoma trooper who choked black paramedic Maurice White, Jr., against an ambulance, is busy defending his client's reputation. However, no one's been charged with a crime in the May 24 incident. Attorney Gary Jones says the OHP investigation stopped his client from telling his version of events.

Hmm. The video really says all I care to know.

From, it seems the defense is citizens get choked for challenging troopers.
Trooper Martin returned from serving in Iraq two months ago and Jones said he was a hometown hero until the "undue" publicity of the scuffle with the paramedic tarnished his reputation.

Jones said Trooper Martin was within his legal authority to stop the ambulance because the ambulance was not running with its lights or sirens on.

James also said the paramedic escalated the situation by challenging the trooper.
In May Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers stopped Creek Nation paramedic White and his partner, EMS driver Paul Franks, over a traffic violation, failure to yield. The emergency workers had a female patient in the ambulance and were taking her to the hospital. Martin was caught on video choking White against the side of the ambulance and telling him he was under arrest. An unaffiliated police trainer said most officers are not taught to grab a subject's neck when face to face, but to go for hands and arms instead.

Most people don't care about training, which he more than likely did not use. Training has nothing to do with it when a man can't make wise decisions in the first place. White told Martin he had a patient for transport to the hospital, but Martin kept screaming at him. What we want to know is, "What the hell is wrong with Martin, and should he be in any position of authority and allowed to carry a gun?

As one reader, LeOpard13, asked on this blog, Why was the trooper screaming at White that he was under arrest for a traffic violation when White wasn't even the driver?

The attorney's defense that White challenged the trooper fits what I said in my first post on this topic:
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. (first post)
And now we see, that's the defense, choked for challenging. Par for the course. Yes, I'm repeating myself, trying to rap my head around this defense. While it's the defense I figured Martin had in his mind all along, the "no black man's gonna challenge me and get a way with it" defense for police brutality, I'm mulling over what it means that his attorney would utter it to the press.

Shortly after the incident with national heat on, the OHP said it had dash cam video showing its troopers' side of the story. More than one trooper came on the scene as it escalated.

Here is a NewsOn6 transcript of the video that the OHP thinks makes its troopers' case:

First confrontation:

Maurice White, Paramedic: My name is Maurice White, I'm a (unintelligible) paramedic.

Trooper Daniel Martin, Oklahoma Highway Patrol: I'm going to give you a ticket for failure to yield and when I go by you saying, 'what's going on,' you don't need to be giving me no hand gestures now. I ain't going to put up with that ****. You understand me?

Maurice White, Paramedic: And I won't put up with you talking to my driver like that.

Trooper Daniel Martin, Oklahoma Highway Patrol: I ain't listening to you, buddy. You get your *** back in the ambulance or I'll take you in. I'm talking to the driver.

In his statement to OHP authorities, Trooper Martin claims he wasn't immediately informed there was a patient on board the ambulance.

But the video shows Maurice White telling Martin that they are transporting a patient and asks the situation be resolved at the hospital.

Second confrontation:

Maurice White, Paramedic: We're taking my patient to the hospital. You can take me to jail, we'll discuss this okay?

Trooper Daniel Martin, Oklahoma Highway Patrol: Come here Paul.

Maurice White, Paramedic: No, no. I got a patient in this...

Trooper Daniel Martin, Oklahoma Highway Patrol: Get your *** (unintelligible).

Martin eventually releases White, but tells the driver that White is going to be arrested for obstruction.

Third confrontation:

Trooper Daniel Martin, Oklahoma Highway Patrol: I didn't need your manager or whoever it is in the back and the paramedic...whoever happens to be in charge, get out the car obstructing, okay.

Paul Franks, Ambulance Driver: I understand.

Trooper Daniel Martin, Oklahoma Highway Patrol: You understand?

Paul Franks, Ambulance Driver: Yes sir, I do.

Trooper Daniel Martin, Oklahoma Highway Patrol: He's going to jail.

Paul Franks, Ambulance Driver: unintelligible

Trooper Daniel Martin, Oklahoma Highway Patrol: Yeah. You don't jump out and talk to a state trooper like that. You understand me? I don't care who you are, you're not running code, you're not running emergency, okay?

Trooper Martin eventually checks on the patient before looking to place Maurice White in custody.

Fourth Confrontation:

Trooper Daniel Martin, Oklahoma Highway Patrol: Hey, you're going to jail, you understand me? You are under arrest.

Maurice White, Paramedic: Okay.

Trooper Daniel Martin, Oklahoma Highway Patrol: You are under arrest. Now get in there.

Maurice White, Paramedic: I would like to press charges on him for assaulting a paramedic.

Trooper Daniel Martin, Oklahoma Highway Patrol: No, I didn't assault you. I told you to turn around. (Source)
This looks like another case of a white man thinking black men must do as he says even if the black men are on the job performing in an official capacity. O.K., it's also possible that Martin is a jackass control freak and would have done this to anybody. As RevvyRev said on the first post here:
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. (RevvyRev also blogs at The Certain Sound)
What you can't see in the video or read in the transcript is that Trooper Martin's wife was in the his OHP car at the time, watching him handle White. Now, you know that became a manhood issue, right? Her presence also suggests that Martin knew when he stopped the ambulance that the EMTs were no real threat, unless he's crazy enough to put his wife in jeopardy. Stopping the men with his wife in the car takes away any defense of him feeling a sense of danger when he grabbed White's throat.

Martin needs counseling until he can get over whatever trauma it is he brought back from Iraq to visit on the citizens of Oklahoma, which could be eternal counseling. Veteran or not, we don't owe him anyone's life and he should be kept out of any position of authority where he has to make a life and death decision. He doesn't need to be near a gun either if this is how he handles a tense situation.

And the OHP thinks this video makes the trooper look justified? They'd have been better off keeping that dash cam clip in an OHP safe. Martin's on administrative leave.

You can also see in the dash cam video Kenyada Davis shooting his cell phone video of the incident that ended up on CNN and YouTube.


le0pard13 said...

VP, you bring up very valid points in your post. And the surprising fact that the trooper's wife was present in the vehicle during this incident should bring his judgement into question with his superiors (beyond his reactions to what he says is occurring). It's one thing to have a civilian in the car for a ride along. But it's quite another when it's a family member, and she's along for what looks like a fast pursuit and an immediate charged up confrontation.

Who puts a loved one in that situation? Perhaps, one that's so pumped up with adrenalin and testosterone that judgment is no longer being applied. If so, then he shouldn't be in a position of authority. I don't see how this OHP dash cam video helps with the trooper's defense, at all. Thanks for the follow up post.

Dawn Fortune said...

y'know, I am all for helping vets and supporting them and thanking them for the service they did, but that does not mean they get to be assholes.

I have a friend who works with a population that is most gently called "dual-diagnosed" meaning they have both addiction issues AND mental illness. They can freak out on him at all times, in all directions, and often without warning. He is far more patient with these clients than I could ever be, but he has some pretty hard limits when it comes to physical assault, theft, and some other stuff. I asked him once about it - how can you put up with so much abuse, and then enforce the rules so gently?

Everybody has bad days, he told me, and this crowd has more bad days than good ones. I let them be angry and sad and whatever else they're feeling. I correct them when they say things that are hurtful or false, but I won't let them hurt others or do damage. We've all got issues, but the behavior is still not acceptable.

The bottom line is this: we all have issues, but the bullshit has got to stop. Being a vet, or a cop, or a man, or a lawyer, or a doctor, or whatever, does not give anyone the right to treat you, me or anyone else like a second-class citizen. And woe to the motherfucker who tries. It does not end well, trust me.


Hey there!

This is absolutely OUTRAGEOUS, Nordette!