News10NBC Exclusive: Body-worn camera video shows moments after EMT was arrested in Strong Emergency Room
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — News10NBC has obtained new video of the moments after a Rochester Police Investigator made a controversial arrest of an EMT inside the Emergency Department at Strong Memorial Hospital. The incident happened back in July, the investigator is currently on administrative leave and the Rochester Police Department tells News10NBC the internal investigation is ongoing.
The case was brought to light after News10NBC obtained and aired a video from inside the emergency room that shows RPD Investigator Charles LoTiempo rush up to Monroe Ambulance EMT Lekia Smith while she is tending to a patient on a stretcher, grab her, pull her arms behind her back and push her up against a reception desk before cuffing her and bringing her outside.
Smith had opened the door of the ambulance into the door of the unmarked police car LoTiempo had parked in the emergency vehicle bay at Strong Memorial Hospital. LoTiempo asked for Smith’s name and identification, at first she didn’t think she hit the car and then told him she would handle it after she got her patient inside and unloaded.
The body-worn camera video provided by a source to News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke shows the moments following LoTiempo’s arrest of Smith inside the Emergency room.
Smith is walked out in handcuffs and placed in the back of a police car. About five minutes later, a supervisor from Monroe Ambulance arrives and speaks with Smith, he then turns around to talk with LoTiempo. The video appears to be purposely muted during that conversation but picks back up when LoTiempo decides to get into the back of the police car to speak with a still handcuffed Smith.
While some of the audio is muffled because the video is from a body-worn camera on an officer who was outside the car, you can hear Smith and LoTiempo argue over whether she initially even realized she had hit his car. “You were being nasty right away,” she tells him at one point.
Smith accuses him abusing his power to which LoTiempo responds, “how was I abusing my power? You got to give me your license when the police tell you, if you don’t, you get arrested. I don’t want to arrest you, I really don’t want to arrest you, you think I get a kick out it? I could care less. Honestly, when I rolled down my window if you would have just been like my bad, I would have been like okay.”
Smith maintained through the conversation she initially didn’t realize her door had hit his car. “You was like, you lied and I was like no, I didn’t realize I hit it,” she says before LoTiempo admits it was a minor scuff. He then appears to try and smooth things over. “I really have a good relationship with all the EMTs and ambulances personnel, I feel like we have a mutual good relationship, I don’t want that to be ruined over something like this ya know what I mean,” he can be heard saying.
After about 10 minutes, LoTiempo lets Smith out of the car and removes the handcuffs.
The officer who was wearing the body-worn camera then goes to talk to Lekia Smith’s partner who was sitting in the ambulance. She tells him she was in the back getting the patient out when she started hearing the two in a heated conversation. “Next thing I know she’s trying to walk this way and he comes up grabs her and is like holding her under arrest and she’s like sir I have a patient and I’m like I can’t take this guy by myself and he lets her bring him into the hospital with me and then I didn’t hear everything that was being said and asked because I was on the phone calling operations,” she recalls.
Smith’s partner then says, “from what I heard, it sounds like she said she would work with him after we got him off the stretcher and the next thing you know, he goes to the sub waiting room, talks to somebody and comes back and says she’s under arrest and slams her into the registration desk then she’s in cuffs and out the door.”