A white Rochester, New York, police investigator who handcuffed a Black emergency medical technician for hitting his vehicle at Strong Memorial Hospital was placed on suspension with pay, according to the Democrat and Chronicle.
The altercation began when Lekia Smith, a Monroe Ambulance EMT, banged the Rochester Police officer’s car while unloading a patient from the ambulance. The police official confronted Smith and demanded she present her identification, WHEC-TV reports.
Smith proceeded to tend to the patient and transport the individual into the hospital first, eyewitnesses said to the news station.
The video footage catches the investigator handcuffing Smith and bringing her outside:
NEW: I just talked with @realmalikevans, he tells me as of 11am, he had not watched the video below but is in contact with the chief and everyone is investigating. @news10nbc pic.twitter.com/dzgsqwzxNX
— Jennifer Lewke (@WHEC_JLewke) July 15, 2022
According to Smith’s attorney, Donald Thompson, the investigator took Smith to his police car, placed her in the backseat to question her, and eventually released her, according to the Huffington Post.
Smith alleges that her dignity and professional status have suffered because of the investigator’s actions.
Monroe Ambulance EMT in a statement praised Smith for her continued care of the patient despite the investigator’s confrontation.
The Rochester Police Department and the Rochester Police Accountability Board are investigating the case and have not revealed the investigator’s identity, according to the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper.
“If she was a petite short white woman, would this have happened to her?” Thompson asked. “Absolutely not.”
A group called Save Rochester held a news conference Monday night and communicated a message from Smith:
“Hello, my name is Lekia Smith. Right now I want to thank everyone for their kind words and prayers during this time. I am still having some mental and physical difficulty after this incident, but despite it all, I am a fighter. I am just glad that God allowed me to still be here to speak my truth, unlike those who have come before me. Once I am feeling better I just want my life to go back to normal and continue on in my career as an EMT. 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.”
Rochester’s police union, the Locust Club, said Smith and the investigator “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,” the Democrat & Chronicle reports.
However, Thompson denies that claim.