MUSKOGEE — A Creek Nation emergency medical technician filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court against a state trooper who was caught on video choking him during a May 24 traffic stop in Okfuskee County.
Maurice White, Jr. claims his civil rights were violated by trooper Daniel Martin, whose actions remain under review by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. Martin, 37, stopped White's ambulance on U.S. 62. He said the driver, Paul Franks, made an obscene gesture when the trooper tried to pass with his lights and sirens on.
With a patient in the ambulance, Martin and White became engaged in an escalating, physical altercation that was captured on two videos and viewed nationwide on the Internet. The lawsuit alleges, "Martin had no right or reason to arrest Mr. White who was discharging his fiduciary obligation to his patient, who had committed no crime and who had offered to submit to arrest at the hospital."
The lawsuit further claims, "Martin used unreasonable force in his seizing of Mr. White" by "throttling him by the neck with his hand." The court document also describes Martin's actions as "deliberate, reckless, wanton and/or cruel ..."
Martin is the only party listed on the suit.
"Based on my understanding of federal civil law, Mr. White does not have a valid claim," said Gary James, Martin's attorney. "But I'm ready and willing to begin deposing Mr. White to see about his past."
White is seeking in excess of $10,000 for both compensatory and punitive damages.
"Mr. White does not think the state will take responsibility for the actions of trooper Martin, and will thus take matters into his own hands," said Richard O'Carroll, White's attorney. "Mr. White therefore asked that we conduct an aggressive discovery into the past behavior of trooper Martin ... and find out how he ended up an employee of the state.
"We've waited long enough."
Martin has been on paid administrative leave since June 1. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol conducted an internal investigation, but the findings have yet to be released.
Capt. Chris West, the agency's spokesman, told The Oklahoman Tuesday an announcement will be made "soon."