Of­fi­cials spar after teen bites para­medic

Fire­fight­ers union leader, po­lice at odds over re­sponse

The Detroit News - - METRO - BY GE­ORGE HUNTER AND CHRIS­TINE FER­RETTI The Detroit News

Detroit — A city medic is tem­po­rar­ily off the job after be­ing bit­ten, kicked and spit on by a 17year-old girl with re­ported men­tal is­sues, while po­lice of­fi­cials and the pres­i­dent of the Detroit fire­fight­ers union dis­pute whether there was a proper po­lice re­sponse to the in­ci­dent.

Po­lice on Tuesday were called about a woman caus­ing a dis­tur­bance in the 16000 block of Wash­burn on Detroit’s west side. Of­fi­cers from the 12th Precinct ar­rived about 1:30 a.m., Detroit Po­lice Cmdr. DeShawne Sims and Lt. Joseph Tucker said Fri­day at a press con­fer­ence at Detroit Pub­lic Safety Head­quar­ters.

When of­fi­cers ar­rived, they found a dis­traught 17-year-old girl on the roof of her home, Sims said.

“The first re­spond­ing unit de­vel­oped a rap­port with the woman and was able to talk her off the roof,” Sims said. “Medics were called ... after the medics ar­rived, (the of­fi­cers) as­sisted the medics with get­ting the in­di­vid­ual onto a gur­ney. She be­came com­bat­ive, and of­fi­cers and medics tried to get her re­strained.”

The 17-year-old bit one of the medics, in­jured an­other medic, bit one po­lice of­fi­cer and spit on an­other cop be­fore she was re­strained, Sims said.

Sims and Tucker said sev­eral times dur­ing Fri­day’s press con­fer­ence that a Face­book post by one of the medics about the in­ci­dent isn’t true. “At no time were the EMTs at the scene alone,” Tucker said.

Mike Nevin, pres­i­dent of the Detroit Fire Fight­ers As­so­ci­a­tion union, said the po­lice re­sponse wasn’t enough. He added that no­body claimed the medics were at the scene alone.

“That’s not even the point,” he said. “This is just more spin to try to make it sound like Detroit’s pub­lic safety isn’t bro­ken. The issue is that the po­lice didn’t con­trol the scene prop­erly. Some­times you need more than two of­fi­cers on a scene.”

Sims and Tucker said once the woman be­came com­bat­ive, more units were called. “But they ar­rived after the of­fi­cers

and EMTs were already en­gaged with the in­di­vid­ual,” Sims said, adding that the in­ci­dent re­mains un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The medic, post­ing un­der the Face­book pseu­do­nym Daniel Joseph, wrote: “So Mon­day night a ‘pa­tient’ bit me to a point where I’m off duty un­til healed. Po­lice on scene didn’t main­tain con­trol of her or the scene. As a re­sult I got pinned be­tween the stretcher and rig. At­tempt­ing to stop this in­di­vid­ual from punch­ing my part­ner, I got bit, spit in my face, and got a knee to the face.

“I’m hon­estly pretty sore. My­self, part­ner, and 1 of­fi­cer were treated in the ER after,” the medic wrote. “I still have fol­low up care. Thank you to medic 4, 10 and the other 2 units that showed up to help us. This is what hap­pens when po­lice runs con­tinue to be pawned off on ems.”

The medic also posted pic­tures show­ing a deep bite mark on a wrist.

“This is hap­pen­ing weekly, if not daily,” Nevin said. “I just had two more EMTs at­tacked (Fri­day) morn­ing. It’s hap­pen­ing way too of­ten. And it’s not the of­fi­cers’ fault; there sim­ply aren’t enough of­fi­cers to do the job prop­erly. That’s on the city, not the of­fi­cers.

“There were only two of­fi­cers at (Tuesday’s) scene,” Nevin said. “Peo­ple are be­ing men­tally pol­luted to think it’s OK to work these kinds of scenes with less peo­ple. It’s not nor­mal. The po­lice should’ve main­tained that scene, and two of­fi­cers weren’t enough.”

Nevin’s com­plaints are the lat­est salvo in an dis­pute be­tween the union pres­i­dent and the po­lice de­part­ment. In Novem­ber, Nevin com­plained that of­fi­cers were slow to ar­rive at a shoot­ing scene, putting medics in dan­ger.

Nevin also sent the me­dia a pack­age, which he also re­port­edly posted on Face­book, that in­cluded au­dio files of po­lice dis­patches, and a po­lice re­port of the Nov. 23 shoot­ing at Junc­tion and War­ren on Detroit’s west side. The re­port in­cluded the names of two wit­nesses who told po­lice about the shoot­ing, along with her phone num­ber and ad­dress.

In re­sponse, Detroit po­lice chief James Craig launched a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion. He said Nevin re­leas­ing con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion put the wit­nesses in harm’s way.

Detroit po­lice sub­mit­ted a war­rant re­quest to Wayne County pros­e­cu­tors last month, but pros­e­cu­tors re­turned the re­quest for more work, Detroit po­lice Sgt. Ni­cole Kirk­wood said Fri­day.

“We’re still gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion, and when we’re done we’ll re­sub­mit the war­rant re­quest,” Kirk­wood said.

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