A perceived obscene finger gesture apparently sparked a May 24 confrontation and scuffle between a state trooper and paramedic in Okfuskee County. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol on Monday released reports from two troopers involved in the incident with Creek Nation paramedics who were taking a woman to the hospital in Prague. Reports also were filed by paramedics Maurice White Jr. and his partner, Paul Franks, who was driving the ambulance. A trooper, Daniel Martin, said he was heading to Paden to aid the Okfuskee County sheriff’s office on a stolen-vehicle call. Martin said he had his emergency lights and siren on when he encountered the ambulance in front of him, which failed to yield to his cruiser until contacted by radio. The ambulance was not running lights and siren. Once on the scene of the stolen-car report in Paden, Martin said he saw the ambulance pass and observed Franks extend his left hand out the window with his middle finger raised. Martin said he later chased the ambulance until it pulled over. Once he got out of his cruiser, he said he was trying to talk to Franks when he saw White get out of the ambulance and slammed the "door in a hostile manner.” Martin said White kept getting between them, despite repeatedly being told by the trooper to back off. White said the trooper bolted out of his car in a huff and yelled at Franks, "What do you mean flipping me off?” White said the trooper would not allow them to continue taking the woman to a hospital and settle the matter there. Martin said White kept getting in his way, and finally Martin tried to arrest White for obstructing an officer. That sparked the first of two scuffles as Martin said he tried to arrest White but the paramedic threw up his arms to resist the arrest. The trooper said only when White got back into the ambulance was he able to speak with Franks. Martin said Franks assured him he did not give the trooper the gesture and apologized for not yielding. The trooper then walked back to the ambulance and tried to tell White he would be arrested once he arrived at the hospital. White was wanting to file charges against the trooper on an allegation of assaulting a paramedic. Another scuffle ensued, and Martin said White grabbed him around the neck, refusing to let go. Martin said he applied a choke hold on White’s neck to release the grip. With White calmed, Martin said he told the paramedics to go to the hospital and he would follow. Martin blamed White for the episode, claiming that if he were allowed to speak with Franks uninterrupted, none of it would have happened. Franks was ultimately given a written warning for failure to yield. White was not arrested.
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