Paramedic tied to scuffle arrested after traffic stop
BY RHETT MORGAN World Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
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VIAN — A paramedic who was involved in a traffic-stop scuffle with an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper that gained national attention in May was arrested Monday on municipal complaints that include speeding and resisting arrest, police said.
Maurice White Jr., 56, also was booked into the Sequoyah County Jail on complaints of failure to obey a lawful order, failure to wear a seat belt and failure to comply with the compulsory insurance law, Assistant Police Chief Brian Chandler said.
White, who was driving his personal vehicle, was stopped for allegedly speeding about 9:15 a.m., Chandler said.
While Chandler was completing a citation, White allegedly approached the police car and was asked to return to his vehicle, police said.
"I asked him again to go back to his vehicle, and he said, 'What was I going to do' if he didn't?" Chandler said. "It went downhill from there."
White's vehicle allegedly was clocked traveling 39 mph in a 25-mph zone, Chandler said. White faces fines of $668, a spokeswoman with the Sequoyah County Sheriff's Office said.
White's attorney, Richard O'Carroll, said, "I think it will never make it to the courthouse door.
"We're going to contest it right there in the city of Vian," he said. "If we can't beat it in the city of Vian, we'll bring it on down to the city of Sallisaw, and we'll deal within the county courthouse. It ain't going anywhere — for a fact."
On May 24, White, who was working for a Creek Nation ambulance service, was part of a tussle with Highway Patrol Trooper Daniel Martin.
Martin had stopped the ambulance in Paden after he thought its driver, Paul Franks, had made an obscene gesture, which the trooper felt was an "act of defiance."
White came out of the back of the ambulance and reportedly told Martin that they were taking a patient to the hospital and asked to continue the dispute there.
A physical altercation ensued at the side of the ambulance, a video of which was aired online and on national television channels.
Martin served a five-day suspension for "conduct unbecoming an officer" for his role in the dust-up with White.
OHP Capt. Chris West said Martin had a right to stop the ambulance and had justification to arrest the paramedic for obstructing an officer but that the situation could have been handled differently.
O'Carroll called the timing of White's arrest Monday "curious," given that White is scheduled to testify Wednesday in the jury trial of Kristopher Douglas of Holdenville.
Douglas, 28, is charged with obstructing an officer in Hughes County after he allegedly failed to heed officers' commands during an Oct. 3 traffic stop outside Douglas' uncle's home.
As a result of that incident, Martin and OHP Trooper Tommy Allen were placed on administrative leave for six weeks but were cleared of accusations of using excessive force.
"A prosecutor called me and told me my witness had just been arrested before I knew it," O'Carroll said, referring to White's arrest Monday. "I'm going to check the cell phone records for everybody."
O'Carroll said he doesn't think the arrest will affect White's civil case against Martin.
White filed a federal lawsuit in July in Muskogee, claiming that the trooper violated his civil rights.
The petition states that Martin "had no right or reason to arrest Mr. White, who was discharging his fiduciary obligation to his patient" and adds that White had committed no crime and had offered to submit to arrest at the hospital.
White wasn't arrested during the confrontation.
The lawsuit also claims that Martin "used unreasonable force in his seizing of Mr. White" by "throttling him by the neck with his hand."
Rhett Morgan 581-8395
Maurice White Jr.: He was arrested on complaints including speeding, resisting arrest and failing to obey a lawful order in connection with a traffic stop Monday in Vian.