An upstate New York police investigator is on paid suspension after handcuffing a Black EMT inside a hospital emergency room last week.
The encounter began when Monroe Ambulance EMT Lekia Smith hit a Rochester Police investigator’s car with her vehicle’s door while unloading a patient in the ambulance bay of Strong Memorial Hospital, WHEC-TV reported.
The investigator, who is white, asked for her ID, but Smith wanted to transport the patient inside the hospital first, sources told the news station.
Video shows Smith with the patient on a stretcher when the investigator handcuffs her and brings her outside:
According to Smith’s attorney, Donald Thompson, the investigator brought Smith to his police car, questioned her in the backseat and then released her.
Smith claims she suffered injury to her dignity and professional standing during the encounter.
It’s unclear how the patient fared. In a statement, Monroe Ambulance EMT commended Smith for focusing on her patient despite the interaction with the investigator.
The Rochester Police Department and the Rochester Police Accountability Board are investigating, per the Democrat & Chronicle newspaper. The department has yet to reveal the investigator’s identity.
“If she was a petite short white woman, would this have happened to her?” Thompson asked. “Absolutely not.”
Rochester’s police union, the Locust Club, said Smith and the investigator “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,” according to the Democrat & Chronicle.
Thompson denied that claim.
“I pray that this never happens to anyone again and I also pray that the justice that is needed in this situation is served swiftly,” Smith said in a statement on Monday.