Los Angeles, CA – A Los Angeles County emergency medical technician (EMT) said that a Los Angeles police sergeant had him arrested for assault after he had to subdue a woman who had unstrapped herself from a gurney in the back of a moving ambulance.
The incident occurred on Aug. 22, as Los Angeles County EMT Roryce Dirden was in the back of an ambulance with a female patient and an unnamed female Los Angeles police sergeant, KTTV reported.
The patient had reportedly experienced a seizure, and had also possibly been sexually assaulted.
“What I did is, I laid her down flat and I tightened up her safety belt due to her flailing body nature,” Dirden told KTTV. “I needed to tighten her down in a moving ambulance.”
Dirden said the woman was autistic, which created a “communication barrier” that further complicated the situation.
“She wasn’t really responding to what I was saying,” he explained.
At some point during the trip to the hospital, the patient managed to free herself from the safety restraints.
“There was a huge concern – once she’s off the gurney, I can’t dictate her behavior,” the EMT explained. “A person is very capable of opening the door ambulance and jumping out.”
Dirden pulled the woman back onto the gurney, at which point the police sergeant accused him of assaulting the patient, he said.
“By me physically restraining her – just doing my job,” the EMT explained. “It was a necessity because the patient was becoming a [possible] injury to herself.”
The sergeant called for other officers to respond, and Dirden was subsequently arrested.
The EMT said that the sergeant’s bodycam footage proved he did nothing wrong, and that he was ultimately released from custody, KTTV reported.
“They reviewed her bodycam and the footage was conclusive,” Dirden told the news outlet. “I was acting within the parameters of my job and making decisions that I had to make. She assumed these actions to be wrong and she made her move.”
Dirden said that the incident was a “traumatic life experience” for him, but that he wants the “world to learn from this situation,” KTTV reported.
“I feared for my life,” he said. “I was completely powerless in this situation. They didn’t acknowledge my EMT identity, they didn’t acknowledge my uniform.”
“We need to improve relations between cultures, between agencies between EMTs and law enforcement,” he added.
The Los Angeles Police Department refused to comment on the incident, and said it was a “personnel matter,” KTTV reported.