A Polk County Fire Rescue Paramedic has been arrested after punching a 67-year-old handicapped patient.
On the evening of May 24, 2022, Bartow Police Department Officers responded to the Bartow Center located at 2055 E 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 emergency responders.
Investigators say that 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 Tuesday, 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.