Lee Co. paramedic charged after kicking handcuffed man in groin

Published: Dec. 21, 2015 at 10:10 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 22, 2015 at 2:55 PM EST
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LEE CO., GA (WALB) - A paramedic has been placed on paid, administrative leave and is under investigation after deputies witnessed him kicking a man in the groin while that man was in handcuffs last Friday night.

It seemed like a minor traffic accident when a car ran into the back of another, but tempers quickly flared, and the paramedic is now facing a misdemeanor criminal charge.

The incident happened at the intersection of North Doublegate and Georgia 520. Deputies said a car driven by 19-year old Amelia Warrington rear-ended David Smith who was stopped at the light.

A report said witnesses told deputies that Smith got out of his car and started yelling and cursing at Warrington and then threw his phone at her.

As deputies and paramedics arrived, Warrington's father and Smith got in a shoving match.

The report goes on to say paramedic John Eckard pulled Smith off by putting his arm around his neck and taking him to the ground.

The report said Robert Patton then got on top of Smith and put his hand around Smith's throat saying, "I'll kill you if you ever put your hand on a public officer again."

Deputies finally subdued Smith by detaining him, but the confrontation was not over. The incident report continues: Patton then kicked Smith in the groin as Smith was getting off the ground.

A deputy quickly grabbed Patton, telling him "you are done here", but deputies say Patton was still yelling and cussing.

Commission Chairman Rick Muggridge was the only county official who would comment.

"We're absolutely not excusing behavior. This is incredibly important to us. We take our job of protecting the public incredibly serious. And we're going to take this incident very serious. We're going to make sure that every point of view is heard and we're going to do the right thing in the end," said Muggridge.

Patton was cited for disorderly conduct, and Smith was cited for two counts of disorderly conduct. No charges or citations were issued against Warrington's father.

County officials have not said how long this investigation may last. Smith was taken by EMS to Phoebe and treated after complaining of head pain.

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