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Official: Pa. firefighter was defending himself when police cuffed him

Fire company officials said Lt. Mike Naylor was first pushed by a trooper when the lieutenant wanted to protect the people inside the car before the window was broken

By Christopher Dornblaser
The York Dispatch, Pa.

YORK TOWNSHIP, Pa. — A York Township fire lieutenant was defending himself from a push by a state police trooper when he pushed the trooper back at the scene of a crash Sunday, according to fire officials.

State police said Lt. Mike Naylor, from Goodwill Fire Co. in York Township, yelled at troopers and pushed one of them during a crash near the Queen Street exit on Interstate 83 about 7:50 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29.

In a news release later Tuesday, Oct. 1, the fire company said Naylor was initially pushed by a trooper when the lieutenant wanted to protect the people inside the car before the trooper broke a window.

Wendy Tracey, the fire company’s president, told reporters at a news conference Tuesday that firefighters were told the car’s occupants were trapped and the car was on fire.

However, when firefighters arrived, the car was not on fire and it was upright with a group of people, including troopers, around the car, according to Tracey.

Tracey said fire crews were not initially aware troopers were breaking the glass. They knew someone in the group was breaking the glass.

Troopers noticed that the driver was showing signs of overdosing, and they were not able to open the car doors, so they broke a passenger side window to get in and give the overdose antidote Narcan to the man, according to a state police news release.

Naylor yelled for them to stop, according to Tracey.

“There was a lot of commotion going on,” she said.

The fire company said troopers were using “different methods” than what firefighters deem best practice.

"(Naylor) was trying to stop them from breaking the glass and doing more harm,” Tracey said.

Naylor asked the trooper to stop breaking glass until the people inside were covered with blankets for protection, but the trooper pushed Naylor and demanded firefighters leave the scene, according to the fire company.

Naylor yelled at the troopers, and one of them ordered him to leave the scene, which he refused to do, according to police.

Naylor “defended the push” and was tackled and handcuffed, according to fire officials.

“From what I was being told, Mike was pushed first, and he pushed back,” Tracey said, adding that the department has yet to talk to state police about the incident.

She said Naylor was shoved so hard his helmet came off. Tracey said she believed it was a “heat of the moment” incident.

But state police said a trooper tried to escort Naylor away when he pushed the trooper, police said. Naylor was ultimately taken to the ground in handcuffs but was released from custody at the scene, police said.

Fire and EMS personnel tended to the people in the car and were not challenged by troopers, according to the fire company. No charges were filed against the lieutenant.

Naylor was not suspended from the fire company, but he and fire company officials agreed that he would not come to the station until the company’s investigation was complete.

“We are looking into it from our end to see what exactly happened,” Tracey said.

Tracey said York Township’s fire chief wants to talk to the state police station commander to see how the two entities can work together better.

“I think it could have been handled a lot better, with communication,” she said. Tracey said tensions were high during the incident.

Members of both state police and the fire company apologized at the scene.

Naylor, a retired paramedic, has been with York Township’s fire company for about three years, according to Tracey.

Messages left for a state police spokeswoman seeking comment were not returned Tuesday.


©2019 The York Dispatch (York, Pa.)