Cop Handcuffs Firefighter For Trying to Protect Crash Victims, VIDEO
CHULA VISTA (CBS 8) — Officials from both the California Highway Patrol and Chula Vista Fire Department Wednesday responded to an incident that left a firefighter in handcuffs at an accident site in the South Bay.
CBS News 8 cameras were rolling around 9:00 p.m. Tuesday when the two got into a dispute over where the fire engine should park while firefighters were responding to the crash that happened north on I-805 between Telegraph Canyon Road and East Orange Avenue.
According to officials, the officer told firefighters to move three fire engines from the fast lane, and two complied, but one firefighter refused that request and continued giving aid to the crash victims.
Exclusive video from CBS News 8 shows the CHP officer cuffing the firefighter, identified as Jacob Gregoire, 36, at the scene of the accident. In the background, other fire crews and officers can be seen tending to the victims of the rollover accident.
The firefighter, who’s been with the fire department for 12 1/2 years, was detained in the back of a CHP vehicle for about half an hour before being released.
CHP has not released the officer name or if he has or has not been reprimanded for the incident.
The driver of a white Honda Civic involved in the crash was transported to the hospital. No word on the condition of the second driver.
Representatives from the CHP and Chula Vista Fire Department met Wednesday to discuss the details of this incident. Wednesday afternoon, the two agencies released the following joint statement:
“Last night there was an unfortunate incident at the scene of a traffic collision on I-805, where both our agencies had responded. Both the CHP and the Chula Vista Fire Department share a common goal of protecting the public and providing the highest level of safety to responding emergency personnel, involved parties and other drivers at collision scenes.
Both of our agencies have the utmost respect for each other and our respective missions. This was an isolated incident and not representative of the manner in which our agencies normally work together toward our common goal.
This morning representatives from both agencies met to discuss the incident to improve communication and ensure the highest level of service is provided to the public. This incident will be a topic of future joint training sessions, in an ongoing effort to work more efficiently together.”
According to Hanneman, crews at an emergency scene usually use a method of working together called an incident command system.
CBS News 8’s Phil Constantine, who worked with the CHP for 20 years, watched the video and shared his thoughts.
“That is legal — you can tell someone to move the vehicle. Whether it’s justified, I can’t comment on,” Constantine said.
He says this has been an ongoing issue for years, in part because there are no rules, just guidelines about working together at a scene.
“Basically you have to do what is reasonable and prudent,” Constantine said.
Hanneman stands by his crew, saying while the agencies are working together to find a resolution, nothing on his end will change.
“My engineers and all the crews did exactly what they’re trained to do,” he said.
CBS News 8 spoke to the President for Local IAFF 2180 John Hess on the phone and says Gregoire did the right thing.
“I’m very proud of Jacob. He did a good job,” said Hess. “He made all firefighters look good. He was there to protect the citizens and he was willing to take a stand to do that.”
This isn’t the first time a firefighter has been detained. In 2010 a Montecito Battalion Chief in Santa Barbara County was handcuffed when he refused CHP orders to move a fire truck blocking lanes of traffic while responding to a crash.
In 2003, a police officer arrested a firefighter in Missouri for a similar reason and he sued. A jury in federal civil court awarded the firefighter with more than $17,000.
In Chula Vista, Hess says this issue between the Chula Vista Fire Department and CHP has come up before and officers have made threats but not arrests or handcuffing a firefighter until Tuesday night.
“I truly believe in my heart that this is going to get solved and that the commissioner is going to get involved and this is going to get fixed,” said Hess.
Local IAFF released this e-mail statement:
“On the evening of February 4, 2014 an officer of the California Highway Patrol arrested an on duty Chula Vista Fire Engineer in full turnouts and helmet while the Engineer was rendering medical aid to the victims of a roll-over accident on the south bound 805Freeway. The Fire Engineer had positioned a Fire Engine consistent with his training in a manner that was intended to protect the safety of the victims of the accident the accident as well as the emergency personnel on scene.
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