VIDEO COURTESY OF CBS AFFILIATE KWTV OKLAHOMA CITY
STROUD, Okla. (AP) An Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper caught on video cussing and fighting with the driver of an ambulance that was carrying a patient was suspended on Wednesday for five days, patrol officials said.
Trooper Daniel Martin also will be required to undergo an anger assessment that "may or may not result in further training or education," patrol spokesman Capt. Chris West said, reading from a prepared statement. West said he couldn't provide more information, citing pending litigation.
A cell phone video of the May 24 scuffle that was widely distributed over the Internet showed Martin grabbing the paramedic, Maurice White Jr., in a choke hold around the neck. White, who has filed a federal lawsuit against Martin, was disappointed by the lax punishment, his attorney said.
"We think it's inappropriate and predictable. Power protects power," attorney Richard O'Carroll said. "We will extract justice of our own measure."
Martin's attorney, Gary James, did not immediately return a phone message left after business hours at his Oklahoma City office.
The cell phone video taken by the patient's relative prompted the patrol to release video from Martin's dashboard-mounted camera. It showed Martin pulling over the ambulance, yelling at White and threatening to arrest him.
"I ain't going to put up with that (expletive)," Martin shouted at White, accusing him of failing to quickly get out of his way as he drove up behind the ambulance with his lights and sirens on along State Highway 62 near Paden.
After White suggested that both vehicles take the ambulance's patient to the hospital and then sort out the situation, White and Martin scuffled against the side of the ambulance. They fought again later, and Martin threatened to arrest him.
Several onlookers approached, and one of them told the trooper that his wife was in the emergency vehicle and needed to get to the hospital. White told Martin several times there was someone in the ambulance.
The paramedics were eventually allowed to transport the woman to the hospital.
West said the Oklahoma Highway Patrol's internal investigation determined that Martin had probable cause to stop the ambulance and was justified in arresting White for obstructing a police officer, "but the situation could have, and should have been handled differently."
The patrol also found that Martin's demeanor and language were unprofessional, his conduct was unbecoming of an officer and he failed to realize "it would have been more reasonable and appropriate to immediately allow the ambulance to continue to the hospital once he understood there was a patient onboard."
Martin had been on paid administrative leave since June 1. His unpaid suspension ends July 28.
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