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Polk County Fire Rescue Paramedic Charged With Assaulting A Elderly Handicapped Patient

Bartow Police Department Press Release

On the evening of 5/24/22, Bartow Police Department Officers responded to the Bartow Center located at Georgia St, Bartow, FL, in reference to a request for assistance from Polk County Fire Rescue (PCFR) personnel regarding an uncooperative patient. PCFR were already on scene attending to a 67-year-old physically handicapped patient. It was determined by PCFR personnel that the patient needed to be transported to Bartow Regional Medical Center for medical reasons. At some point during the incident, the patient was placed on the gurney and was being restrained by four (4) emergency responders. The defendant, PCFR Paramedic Matthew Mullins, had one knee on the chest of the patient and punched him on the forehead with a closed fist while stating something to the effect of “I’m from Combee, we don’t play that.” At that point, Officers from the Bartow Police Department intervened and ordered Mullins off the patient. The patient was then immediately transported to the hospital by the EMT and Mullins via ambulance for the original medical issue. The victim did not sustain injury from Mullins’ action.

Due to Bartow Officers and Bartow Fireman believing the restraint methods used by Mullins was excessive, Mullins’ supervisor at PCFR was immediately notified of the incident by City of Bartow first responders. During the course of the police investigation and after all interviews were conducted with potential witnesses, Bartow Detectives determined the actions by Mullins were not in self-defense or medically necessary. The victim did not display any physical threat towards anyone at the scene when he was punched by Mullins. In fact, he was being physically restrained by other emergency responders and under control at the time. At the completion of the investigation, Mullins was charged with Felony Battery on a person 65 years of age or older. All attempts to locate and arrest Mullins were initially unsuccessful; therefore, on Friday, May 27, 2022 Bartow Detectives secured an outstanding arrest warrant for Mullins for the criminal charges. Members of the Bartow Police Department continued to search for Mullins throughout the weekend, however, met with negative results.

On 5/31/2022, Mullins responded to the Bartow Police Department and was arrested on the outstanding warrant.

“The action Mullins did to a member of the senior community was completely uncalled for. 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 the consequences of his actions through the criminal justice process.” said Chief of Police Bryan Dorman.

Here is a redacted excerpt of the arrest affidavit.

It should be noted that this is an unedited report of facts by the Bartow Police Department. These facts are up for question and everyone is entitled to question the validity of facts by law enforcement in a court of law. The Daily Ridge does not rewrite these facts as some meanings or interpretations could be in error and change context. We hope readers appreciate being able to read the information and come to their own understanding and conclusions:

“The victim in this case is a 67-year-old black male who suffers from Parkinson Disease which causes him to shake and move his hands and legs uncontrollably. The victim can walk however, he is normally confined to a wheelchair due to the disease and deterioration and weakness of muscles.
The victim currently resides at REDACTED and is unable to care for himself without assistance from the facility.

The defendant is employed by Polk County Emergency Medical Services and did respond to the aforementioned location on 5-24-2022. The call for service was indicated to be for an injured person however, the notes updated in the call specifically stated BAKER ACT/PATIENT COMBATIVE
Bartow Polce Department Officers were requested and responded to assist EMS with a combative patient. The victim was observed on the floor with his wheelchair in the immediate vicinity. The defendant did tell the victim to get on the stretcher at which time the victim began to scoot his body into another room to evade transport.
The defendant did enter the area the victim scooted his body to and grabbed the victim by the clothing.
The defendant then began dragging the victim back to the area of the stretcher.
The defendant and his EMS partner, Kyan Atwood then picked the victim up. The defendant grabbed the victim by his arms and Atwood grabbed the victim by his legs lifting him in the air.

The defendant then dropped the victim because
he realized the stretcher was positioned in the opposite direction, they were attempting to load him. Meaning the victim’s feet were at the head portion of the stretcher and the victim’s head was positioned at the feet portion of the stretcher.

The defendant then turned the stretcher around, at which time he and Atwood picked the victim up again and threw the victim onto the stretcher in the correct position. Bartow Firetighter Meeks began assisting in holding the victim’s hand so that soft restraints could be secured. The defendant then placed his knee on the victim’s abdomen holding him down. During this time Atwood was holding the victim’s legs. The defendant was not able
to move and completely retrained from harming himself or others. The defendant then reached back balling his fist and struck the victim about the forehead area of his face as he was already being restrained. The defendant made the comment (not verbatim) I’m from Combee we don’t play this shit, are you done being a fucking idiot.
Officer Ledford told the defendant if you hit him again, I am I going to fucking arrest you.
The victim was transported to Bartow Regional Medical Center by defendant and Atwood. The victim was later transported to LRMC whereas he was diagnosed with a severe urinary tract infection which was a major contributor to his mental status.
Your affiant has found that there is sufficient evidence that the defendant’s behavior to be consistent with abuse on an elderly person. The defendant failed to use due care in the treatment of the victim and furthermore struck him about the face against his will during a time when medical treatment was necessary to ensure his wellbeing.”

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