A New York police officer has been placed on paid suspension after handcuffing a Black EMT worker who was trying to get a patient into the hospital.
According to WHEC, the incident started when Monroe Ambulance EMT Lekia Smith hit a Rochester police investigator’s car with her vehicle’s door while unloading a patient in Strong Memorial Hospital’s ambulance bay.
The investigator, who is white, asked for her identification, but Smith was focused on unloading and transporting the patient inside the hospital, WHEC reports.
A video of the encounter shows Smith being handcuffed while she is with the patient on a stretcher.
Monroe Ambulance EMT released a statement applauding Smith for focusing on the patient despite the police encounter.
However, Smith claims her professional standing and dignity have been damaged as a result of the incident.
Donald Thompson, Smith’s attorney, said the officer brought the EMT worker outside and questioned her in the back of his police car before releasing her.
“If she was a petite short white woman, would this have happened to her?” Thompson posed. “Absolutely not.”
The encounter is currently being investigated by the Rochester Police Accountability Board and the Rochester Police Department, which has yet to publicly identify the investigator in question.
According to Rochester’s police union, the Locust Club, Smith and the officer “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.”
However, her lawyer 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.