OKLAHOMA CITY – For more than three weeks an infamous cell phone video showing an Oklahoma highway patrolman and a paramedic getting into a scuffle on the side of a highway has been making its rounds on YouTube.
Now its counterpart — video from the trooper's dashboard cam — has been released, and some are saying it vindicates a decorated war hero.
"He is not this ogre, this constitutional depriver of people's rights. He is a good man. This is a man that has been in law enforcement for 15 years. He just got back from Iraq — got back in April of this year after a year tour of duty for the U.S. Navy," said attorney Mark James, who came to the defense of his client Trooper Daniel Martin, at a press conference Monday afternoon.
James claims the dashboard camera upholds his client's story, showing that he acted appropriately in subduing paramedic Maurice White. He said that White came out of the ambulance trying to control the situation and was told repeatedly to return to the back of the rig.
"He was asked before there was a curse word, before there was yelling to get back in the ambulance three times, he did not comply with the lawful order," James said.
"Mr. White committed an obstruction of justice and he is told in that video, 'Sir, you are going to be arrested for obstruction', and he was told that twice. He does not comply. At that point in time is when the trooper tries to make an arrest."
White's claim that the trooper was out of control is simply unfounded and reading White's contradictory statement proves it, James said.
"The officer, as he got out of his vehicle in a state of rage, he approached my partner and said 'Get your ass back here. I'm giving you a ticket for failure to yield. What do you mean flipping me off?' I challenge you to go in there and find that, that didn't happen," James said.
Since the ambulance was not running its lights or siren, James said that Martin had every right to pull over the Creek Nation EMS ambulance on May 24.
"An Oklahoma highway patrolman, under all circumstances, has the right to make a traffic stop. He has a right to make a traffic stop on an ambulance that is not running code, because it is nothing more than any other vehicle," he said.
Martin's attorney also said that if someone thought that the trooper acted inappropriately, there are a number of things that run through an officer's mind when making a stop — like fear.
"One thing that police officers are taught is that a person that will fight a police officer is an extreme danger to the public."
The investigation into the traffic stop concluded last week and no charges were brought against Martin or White, but Martin is looking at the possibility of a lawsuit from White's attorney.
White was not arrested for resisting arrest or failure to yield to the trooper's vehicle because if White were taken off duty Okfuskee County would have been left without a paramedic.
"Whether it's right or wrong, that is what a district court of Okfuskee County is for, let those people decide whether or not this was a lawful arrest," James said.
Martin has been on administrative leave since June 1, James said, and he requested the leave to stay at home and be with his children after his family received numerous threats.