A white Los Angeles Fire Department firefighter allegedly struck and tightened a towel around the head of a Black detainee who was handcuffed on an ambulance gurney, causing the man to yell, “I can’t breathe,” according to internal city records reviewed by The Times.
The incident occurred about 17 months ago and came to light after recent inquiries by The Times. The episode was described in a letter prepared by the Fire Department’s top medical director, who said the firefighter might have violated a state law prohibiting abuse of a patient through the use of excessive force, the records show.
Dr. Marc Eckstein, commander of the Fire Department’s emergency medical services, expressed his concerns about the March 20, 2019, actions of firefighter Derek Farrow in a letter to a county health director, Dr. Marianne Gausche-Hill. In a second document, he said that he reviewed Los Angeles Police Department video footage of the incident.
After an internal review, L.A. Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas sought a 12-day suspension for Farrow, who is now appealing that judgment and is awaiting a discipline hearing, a department spokesman confirmed Monday.
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