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Polk County paramedic punched restrained patient, police say

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BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) — A Polk paramedic was arrested Tuesday afternoon after police said he punched an elderly patient while he was restrained in a gurney.

The Bartow Police Department said Matthew Mullins faces a charge of felony battery on a person 65 years of age or older.

According to police, they responded to the Bartow Center in the evening of March 24 on a request from the Polk County Fire Rescue for a “combative” patient.

When they got there, police said PCFR was attending to a 67-year-old physically handicapped patient who needed to be taken to the hospital.

At one point the patient was being restrained in a gurney by four emergency responders. That’s when police said Mullins put his knee in the patient’s chest and punched him in the face.

BPD said Mullins said something like “I’m from Combee, we don’t play that,” after he punched the patient. The patient was not injured by the punch, according to a release.

Police told Mullins to get away from the patient and if he hit him again, he would be arrested.

The patient was then taken to the hospital.

Emergency personnel immediately reported the incident to supervisors. Police said the ensuing investigation showed Mullins’ actions were not in “self-defense or medically necessary” since the patient was restrained and not physically threatening anyone on scene.

“The action Mullins did to a member of the senior community was completely uncalled for,” Bartow Chief of Police Bryan Dorman said in a statement. “There is never a reason for first responders to use force on someone who is not deemed a physical threat. It does not matter if you are a police officer, fire personnel or medical personnel. Wrong is wrong and Mr. Mullins will have to face consequences of his actions through the criminal justice process. He should turned himself in and be accountable for his actions.”

Police were unable to find Mullins after the investigation so they got a warrant for his arrest on Friday. He did not returned to work after the incident.

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