Police announced the suspension earlier this week, updating a statement Rochester Police Chief David Smith made last week that called the July 11 incident “deeply concerning” and said he has “high expectations for all members of the Rochester Police Department.”
“As a result of this interaction at Strong Hospital, I have directed our Professional Standards Section to initiate an internal investigation,” Smith said.
Attorney Elliott Shields told CNN that his client is an EMT with Monroe Ambulance. When she and her partner pulled up to the hospital, the investigator’s police car was parked very close to the ambulance. When Smith opened her door, she “made contact with the police vehicle,” Shields said.
The investigator “immediately comes over to her and yells at her, demands her ID,” Shields said. His client told the investigator that she would give him her ID as soon as they transport the patient inside the hospital for treatment, he added.
Shields also said that as the patient was taken inside the hospital, the investigator followed his client and harassed her verbally. He said this is where the surveillance video began, in which the investigator “seizes her, throws her against the wall, puts her in handcuffs.”
Shields said after the video ends his client was detained in the back of the investigator’s vehicle for around 30 minutes until her supervisor arrived. She was later released and no charges have been filed.
The Rochester Police Locust Club, a police union representing members of the Rochester Police Department, called the decision to suspend the police investigator “perplexing” and stated that the investigator and the EMT “reached a mutually acceptable resolution that day when both the investigator and the EMT were able to jointly discuss the reasons for their actions, and both accepted each other’s explanations.”
“Supervisors from both RPD and Monroe were on scene and mutually agreed that both parties understood why each other took the actions they did,” the union said in a statement.
CNN reached out to the Rochester Police Locust Club for comment on Shields’ statements regarding what led up to and what happened after the handcuffing of Smith but has not yet received a response.
Donald Thompson, another attorney representing Smith, called the police union’s assertion that a “mutually acceptable resolution” was reached the day of the incident “unequivocally false and intended to mislead the public.”
“The boldness of that lie is jaw-dropping. She was handcuffed while attempting to care for her patient, forcefully led to a police car and placed, still handcuffed in the locked back seat area of the car,” Thompson said. “They never came to any agreement about any of this.”
John Caufield, Monroe Ambulance’s Chief Operating Officer confirmed to CNN that a supervisor responded to the scene after Smith’s partner notified them of the situation but disputes the police union’s characterization that their discussion with a Rochester Police supervisor was one of “mutual understanding.”
“Monroe’s Assistant Chief spoke with a Rochester Police Department Lieutenant at the scene, but to describe their discussion as one of ‘mutual understanding’ is misrepresenting the nature of the conversation. We had, and continue to have, significant concerns about the treatment of our employee by a member of the Rochester Police Department and we brought those concerns to the attention of Police Chief’s office. We are awaiting the findings of an internal investigation by RPD,” Caufield said.
Chris Dewey, Chief Information Officer of Monroe Ambulance, called Smith’s detainment “inappropriate,” but said he believes the “altercation is not representative of the values of the Rochester Police Department and certainly not that of leadership thereof.”
“We (Monroe leadership) have concluded that our patient care provider conducted herself in a manner representing the values or our organization – quality, compassion, and integrity,” Dewey said in a statement.
Shields also said he believes the police investigator acted in a racist manner towards his client.
“My client is a Black woman, about 4’10”, approximately 100 pounds,” Shields said. “She’s terrified, she has never been put in a situation like this before. She’s doing her job, she’s saving lives…if my client was White, this would’ve never happened.”
“Officers are trained to have to make fast decisions in stressful situations, life or death. There was no emergency, there was no life or death, other than my client’s patient to receive the medical treatment that she was in the hospital for. What set him off was a Black woman telling him you have to wait,” Shields said.
Both Shields and Thompson said they are demanding that the police investigator be terminated immediately. The incident occurred only four days after Mayor Malik Evans named David Smith as the city’s new police commissioner on July 7.
CNN has reached out to city officials and the mayor’s office for comment.