When Winnfield firefighter Jonathan Johnson responded to a two-vehicle accident, the last thing he expected was to get arrested. The dispute between himself and the Winn Parish Sheriff’s department ended up with Johnson taken away in handcuffs.
The Town Talk reported Johnson and another team member followed standard operating procedure by responding to the call. They arrived at the scene with a fire engine and a rescue unit. When Johnson parked the engine, he blocked traffic around the wreck.
Fire Chief James Keith stated Johnson parked the vehicle to follow safety protocols and then assisted the paramedic in attending to the driver. The accident had occurred in the turning lane of a four lane road.
However, Winn Parish Sheriff Cranford Jordan said there were no injuries incurred by the accident and a fire engine was not needed. “I was parish fire chief before I was sheriff,” he said. “We need a close working relationship with everybody. There are times to block the road. An officer or fireman has to use his judgment.”
“We’re going to go, we’re going to respond regardless of where it’s at,” Keith said. “We’re all emergency responders.”
He continued by stating, “We were trying to help the people, who had the wreck, and assist the ambulance. Basically, we were doing our job.”
Deputy Ralph Henson asked all the emergency response personnel to move their vehicles because they were blocking traffic. Both the ambulance and fire rescue unit complied but Johnson did not move the fire truck because he claims he was assisting the paramedic.
Jordan stated that another deputy, Kelly Fannin, at the scene reported to him that he then ordered Johnson to move the fire engine. After giving him the command three time with no compliance, the officers arrested and handcuffed him.
Myarklamiss.com reported that Johnson stated, “I explained to him that it was part of my duty to protect the scene and make it a safe working area. He told me there was no fire and a truck wasn’t necessary. I told him we were working the accident which required a truck.”
Keith, also going on the reports from his staff, said Johnson did not obey right away because the fire truck was in gear. He also said the arrest of Johnson was unnecessarily physical.
According to The Talk Town, Johnson was held at the Winn Parish Sheriff’s Office until Henson, the working officer, arrived. They restrained him by cuffing his leg to a bench. He was detained for two hours and cited for failing to obey a police officer.
“He was treated just like anybody else,” Jordan said.
He said the incident did not have to escalate to the level it did and it could have been avoided had Johnson complied like the other two responders asked to move their vehicles.
“Order had to be maintained,” Jordan said. “Everyone has to obey the law. “He [the deputy] didn’t ask him to do anything the other two didn’t do.”
“It is disheartening that we are going through this as emergency responders. We were there to help people. That is exactly what we were called to do,” said Keith.