An Oklahoma state trooper who pulled over an ambulance with a patient inside and then scuffled with a paramedic had every right to make the stop since the vehicle did not have its emergency lights and sirens on, an attorney said Monday.
Gary James, an attorney for trooper Daniel Martin, also said at a news conference that the trooper is not the "ogre" he has been made out to be.
Interest in the May 24 incident has soared since authorities released video over the weekend that was taken by the dashboard camera in Martin's patrol car. The video shows paramedic Maurice White Jr. repeatedly telling Martin he has a patient in the back and wants to go to the hospital.
James said Martin had a legal right to pull over the ambulance for failing to yield the right of way when the patrol unit tried to pass it moments earlier. He also said White escalated the situation by challenging the trooper.
On the video, Martin tells White to get back into the ambulance and says he wants to talk to the driver, whom he accuses of making an obscene gesture at him.
Martin ended up scuffling with White and threatening to arrest him. Another trooper arrived and the ambulance was eventually allowed to continue to a hospital, where the patient was treated and later released.
The local district attorney reviewed the case and declined to file charges against either Martin or White. Martin has been placed on paid administrative leave during the Oklahoma Highway Patrol's internal investigation.
James said Martin is a decorated veteran who recently returned from military service in the Middle East.
"There's a lot of things that people ought to know about him," James said. "He's not this ogre, this depriver of people's rights."
White's attorney, Richard O'Carroll, said Martin was out of control during the incident. He wants his client's name cleared and "significant" remedial action taken against the trooper.
"If this kind of thing could happen to another professional, imagine what would happen to a suspected criminal in a dark alley," he said.