A Fairfax County, Virginia, firefighter was charged with assaulting a man who was being transported to the hospital in an ambulance, the fire department announced on Monday.
Firefighter Andrew Cruikshank is facing the misdemeanour count after getting into an altercation with a patient that occurred about 6am on 14 September, the fire department said.
The altercation was captured on the body-worn camera of a Fairfax County police officer, who had the man in custody. The fire department released the video on Monday with the faces of the people in the footage blurred.
After the man, who is on a gurney, threatens to kill a firefighter, the video shows the firefighter throwing a swab on the man. The man then appears to spit on the firefighter, who appears to respond by striking him.
The man, who identified himself as homeless in the video, was handcuffed at the time.
Neither the statement from authorities nor the video footage that was released “portray a true picture of what actually happened,” the president of the local firefighters union said on Monday night in a statement.
The firefighter “was assaulted as witnessed by the police officer,” said Ron Kuley, the union official.
The end of the video captures the police officer telling the man that he “assaulted us numerous times. …You spit on the medic and you also assaulted him!” Mr Kuley said.
He asked that it be remembered that those arrested are innocent until proved guilty, and said judgment should not be passed on the basis of a video and without due process. “Politics do not determine justice,” Mr Kuley said.
Fire Chief John Butler has ordered an administrative investigation into the incident, and Mr Cruikshank has been placed on administrative leave. Mr Cruikshank has been with the department for two years.
“This action goes against the values we hold at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department,” Mr Butler said in a statement. “We respect our role in the community and strive to build and maintain public trust. We remain dedicated to the safety and wellbeing of our community and will continue to ensure that our members are held to the highest standards of the profession.”