Thursday, July 30, 2009

Important lesson: keep a video camera handy

Just over a month ago I read an account of Oklahoma Highway Patrol officer Daniel Martin who pulled over an ambulance. It appears the officer thought the driver had flipped him off, which turns out to be protected under free speech. It may be stupid, but the officer had no legal reason for pulling over the ambulance.

Maurice White, the other paramedic, got out and asked if there was something wrong. Maurice was worried that the officer needed help. Trooper Martin yelled at him to get back in the ambulance. The paramedic explained that they had a patient and asked if they could proceed to the hospital and then resolve the officer's issues. Legally the police are not allowed to stop an ambulance when they are in the process of taking a patient to a hospital. The officer started to lose it. At one point the officer puts the paramedic in a choke hold.

You can read the paramedic's report here.

It appears the Oklahoma Highway Patrol's first response was to arrest the paramedic for obstructing justice. Never mind that the officer had broken a few laws.

One of the main reasons the Oklahoma Highway Patrol backed down is a son of the patient in the ambulance had been following his mother. When the officer started hassling the paramedic the son took this video:

It quickly got tens of thousands of hits. (Now it is up to 1.6 million hits.)

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol cars have their own video cameras. They claim they don't have to release the video, which is offensive because they are suppose to be protected us citizens, and we pay for the cameras. With all the publicity, and politicians asking the Highway Patrol to release the video, they finally release the video from the officer's car:

News organizations dug up earlier reports of Trooper Daniel Martin being a bully. To be fair they also found that a few co-workers at a previous thought Maurice White was unprofessional. As I have watched the two above videos a couple times it seems to be that on a scale of one to ten Daniel Martin is a seven or eight as being way out of line, and Maurice White might be a two. He could have been a little more tactful, but he was trying hard to take care of his patient.

I set up a couple Google Alerts to track this issue. Just this week the Oklahoma Highway Patrol decided to slap Daniel Martin's hands and give him a five day supension, without pay.

It is mind boggling to me that they feel Daniel Martin can be trusted with a gun. He may be a nice guy, good with dogs, great husband, and helps little old ladies across the street. But he showed a complete lack of judgement. What happens the next time he is in a stressful situation? I'm afraid it could go bad, maybe very bad.

One of the lessons I take from this incident is that the only reason Maurice White didn't end up in jail is the son of the patient had a video camera. With all the publicity the Highway Patrol had to be a little fair and leave Maurice White alone.

If I lived in Oklahoma I'd be calling the state officials and demanding that Daniel Martin be fired.

And I'm going to try and always have a video camera handy.

Technorati tags: Daniel Martin, Maurice White

1 comment:

Bob Durtschi said...

Many of the newer cell phones can take videos. You might consider that as one of the criteria when it comes time to upgrade.