It took a while for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol to release a video showing one of its troopers choking a paramedic who was taking an elderly patient to the hospital, and now that it's available on YouTube, you can understand why they tried to suppress it.
I'm in awe of the dignified and articulate ambulance supervisor who bravely stands up to the sickeningly hotheaded trooper who is furious that anyone would dare to "jump out and talk to a State Trooper like that."
Patricia Phillips, Oklahoma Crime Examiner, has been covering the story:
An ambulance, with Maurice White acting as supervisor and paramedic, is taking an elderly woman, who had collapsed, to the hospital for treatment. Her worried family follows.J.D. Tuccille of Civil Liberties Examiner says: "Consider this a test case. If you don't see a paramedic's life-saving responsibilities as at least as pressing as the law-enforcement duties of a police officer, there probably is no limit to the authority you're willing to grant any government employee with a badge."
Trooper Daniel Martin, who was responding to a stolen car report, came up behind the ambulance on a two-lane country road. In Oklahoma, those shoulders are notoriously tricky for even a car to pull off onto. But there's another factor involved.
As the dash cam clearly shows, a car is on the right-hand shoulder, partially obstructing the highway. Just as the highway patrol pulls up behind the ambulance, the medical unit must swing out to avoid colliding with the parked car.
Let me repeat that, because it's important: if the ambulance's driver, Paul Franks, had immediately pulled over when the racing trooper came up behind him, he would have created an accident. It is impossible to safely pull over while slamming into another vehicle.
After the ambulance gets past the parked vehicle, Franks slows and safely pulls over for the trooper. As Martin zooms by--at a speed that I would call excessive for just a stolen car report--he uses the radio to reprimand the ambulance for not pulling over.
Later in the tape, it's shown that the sheriff's department is already on scene at the stolen car incident. Martin is released from any need to be at the scene.
Then he whips around, guns his car, and goes out hunting the ambulance. When he catches up with the ambulance, what happens next is a textbook case for bad judgment and abuse of power.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects