Probe: Cop, paramedic confrontation a result of miscommunication

An EMS captain asked a sergeant to subdue a combative patient, but the paramedic on scene was unaware of the request

By FireRescue1 Staff

PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — After a confrontation between a police officer and a paramedic went viral last week, officials concluded that neither responder committed any wrongdoing. 

An investigation conducted by police and EMS officials said that Portsmouth Police Sgt. Joel Robinson and a paramedic’s reactions at the scene of a bar fight were based off information they had at the time. 

Following the incident, a video surfaced, capturing only a part of the incident, which depicted Sgt. Robinson holding a paramedic by the neck, reported the Portsmouth Daily Times

“Oftentimes we look at video in a vacuum,” Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware said. “We take what we see in one angle and we form an opinion based on that angle. Sometimes, subconsciously, we add our own filler to figure out what happened.”

During the incident, a patient had become combative and prompted Sgt. Robinson to tase him. It was later confirmed that Life Medical Response Capt. John Jenkins requested the TASER be used after he was kicked several times by the patient. 

“I requested this officer, I worked hand-in-hand for many years with this officer, and I trusted everyone from the police department and Shawnee State University and the fire department,” Capt. Jenkins said.

Capt. Jenkins said the paramedic didn’t hear his request for officer assistance due to the noise from bystanders. The paramedic then interfered with Sgt. Robinson and put his hands on him. Sgt. Robinson, aware of the watching crowd, did not know who touched him and responded by hooking his arm and pushing the paramedic back. 

The video that surfaced online captures only Sgt. Robinson guiding the paramedic across the street and pushing his clavicle. 

“I don’t think he [the paramedic] meant any ill harm to the police officer by any means,” Capt. Jenkins said. “He was trying to do what he felt at the time was right for his patient and I have to give him kudos for that. That’s our job. We take care of the patient.”


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