The Florida State Attorney’s Office has released a video (shown below) of a February incident in which a Brevard County paramedic appears to have flipped a male patient out of a gurney and onto a hospital floor.
The Palm Beach Post reports the paramedic, 35-year-old Kenneth Hallenbeck, was fired from his job in March following the incident.
The surveillance camera footage appears to show Hallenbeck turning a wheeled gurney up on its side and dumping an older male patient onto the floor. The patient has since been identified as 49-year-old James Slater.
Slater said he had refused to get out of the gurney at the Weustoff Medical Center in Rockledge, Florida, because there were no beds available. Hallenbeck eventually lost his temper, according to Slater.
“He started screaming and then grabbed the gurney and picked it up and threw me on the floor,” Slater was quoted as saying in the Post. “That’s when the guy behind the counter said, ‘You need to go call your boss, I have to call the police department.’”
Hallenbeck was originally charged with felony abuse of the elderly or disabled. But that charge has since been reduced to a misdemeanor charge.
Assistant State Attorney Gary Beatty told Florida Today in an email that Slater’s medical condition — which has not been disclosed— may not qualify him as a “disabled adult” which would be necessary for the felony charge.
“Because of this uncertainty, litigation of this matter would likely have prolonged disposition of the case beyond the victim's life expectancy and subjected him to stress that could have aggravated his condition,” Beatty wrote in the email. “The misdemeanor charge facilitates a quick resolution of the case that will insure Mr. Hallenbeck surrenders his paramedic license and assures he will not be able to work as a paramedic in the future.”
Hallenbeck is expected to appear in court June 22, where he will enter a plea and likely be sentenced.
Slater has said he is not happy the charge was downgraded, according to the Post. He is said to have obtained a private attorney and is seeking the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.
Photo Credit: Screen shot from YouTube