Dispute after paramedic bitten by mentally ill girl

A city medic is temporarily off the job after being bitten, kicked and spit on by a 17-year-old girl with reported mental issues, officials say.

Detroit — A city medic is temporarily off the job after being bitten, kicked and spit on by a 17-year-old girl with reported mental issues, while police officials and the president of the Detroit firefighters union dispute whether there was a proper police response to the incident.

Police on Tuesday were called about a woman causing a disturbance in the 16000 block of Washburn on Detroit's west side. Officers from the 12th Precinct arrived about 1:30 a.m., Detroit Police Cmdr. DeShawne Sims and Lt. Joseph Tucker said Friday at a press conference at Detroit Public Safety Headquarters.

When officers arrived, they found a distraught 17-year-old girl on the roof of her home, Sims said.

"The first responding unit developed a rapport with the woman and was able to talk her off the roof," Sims said. "Medics were called ... after the medics arrived, (the officers) assisted the medics with getting the individual onto a gurney. She became combative, and officers and medics tried to get her restrained."

The 17-year-old bit one of the medics, injured another medic, bit one police officer and spit on another cop before she was restrained, Sims said.

Sims and Tucker said several times during Friday's press conference that a Facebook post by one of the medics about the incident isn't true. "At no time were the EMTs at the scene alone," Tucker said.

Mike Nevin, president of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association union, said the police response wasn't enough. He added that nobody claimed the medics were at the scene alone.

"That's not even the point," he said. "This is just more spin to try to make it sound like Detroit's public safety isn't broken. The issue is that the police didn't control the scene properly. Sometimes you need more than two officers on a scene."

Sims and Tucker said once the woman became combative, more units were called. "But they arrived after the officers and EMTs were already engaged with the individual," Sims said, adding that the incident remains under investigation.

The medic, posting under the Facebook pseudonym Daniel Joseph, wrote: "So Monday night a 'patient' bit me to a point where I'm off duty until healed. Police on scene didn't maintain control of her or the scene. As a result I got pinned between the stretcher and rig. Attempting to stop this individual from punching my partner, I got bit, spit in my face, and got a knee to the face.

"I'm honestly pretty sore. Myself, partner, and 1 officer were treated in the ER after," the medic wrote. "I still have follow up care. Thank you to medic 4, 10 and the other 2 units that showed up to help us. This is what happens when police runs continue to be pawned off on ems."

The medic also posted pictures showing a deep bite mark on a wrist.

"This is happening weekly, if not daily," Nevin said. "I just had two more EMTs attacked (Friday) morning. It's happening way too often. And it's not the officers' fault; there simply aren't enough officers to do the job properly. That's on the city, not the officers.

"There were only two officers at (Tuesday's) scene," Nevin said. "People are being mentally polluted to think it's OK to work these kinds of scenes with less people. It's not normal. The police should've maintained that scene, and two officers weren't enough."

Nevin's complaints are the latest salvo in an ongoing dispute between the union president and the police department. In November, Nevin complained that officers were slow to arrive at a shooting scene, putting medics in danger.

Nevin also sent the media a package, which he also reportedly posted on Facebook, that included audio files of police dispatches, and a police report of the Nov. 23 shooting at Junction and Warren on Detroit’s west side. The report included the names of two witnesses who told police about the shooting, along with her phone number and address.

In response, Detroit police chief James Craig launched a criminal investigation. He said Nevin releasing confidential information put the witnesses in harm's way.

Detroit police submitted a warrant request to Wayne County prosecutors last month, but prosecutors returned the request for more work, Detroit police Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood said Friday.

"We're still gathering information, and when we're done we'll re-submit the warrant request," Kirkwood said.

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN