Ohio man accused of coughing at EMS providers, police

The man is facing a charge of felony harassment and was ordered to be tested for COVID-19 after allegedly coughing at the first responders intentionally


By Jeff Saunders, Cuyahoga Falls News-Press
The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio — City police and fire officials said Tuesday that police officers and EMS personnel remain healthy after a Hanover Street man allegedly coughed at them on purpose while they were at his home April 6.

Police Capt. Steve Guldeman and Deputy Fire Chief Chris Martin said they had not received results of court-ordered coronavirus testing for 34-year-old Jared A. McDowell.

Jared McDowell, 34, is accused of intentionally coughing at EMS providers and police officers who were responding to an altercation at his home. (Photo/The Columbus Dispatch)
Jared McDowell, 34, is accused of intentionally coughing at EMS providers and police officers who were responding to an altercation at his home. (Photo/The Columbus Dispatch)

"I have not heard he was positive," said Guldeman. "I'm sure that I would have heard he was positive if he was."

According to Stow Municipal Court records, McDowell is charged with fifth-degree felony harassment by inmate and fourth-degree misdemeanor disorderly conduct. During his arraignment Monday, Judge Lisa Coates ordered that McDowell be taken to Western Reserve Hospital for testing as a condition of his release from Cuyahoga Falls City Jail on a personal bond.

Guldeman said police initially responded to McDowell's home after receiving a report that he was in a physical altercation with an adult male relative during the early evening April 6. According to a police report and the disorderly conduct complaint police filed with the court, McDowell was allegedly intoxicated.

"When we arrived, they were having a verbal argument," said Guldeman. "And I know that when the officers made contact with Jared, he was highly intoxicated."

Guldeman said McDowell became "very aggressive" and EMS was called to take him to Akron City Hospital, "due to him not being able to take care of himself and the intoxication," said Guldeman.

The report alleges that McDowell removed a protective mask from his face and coughed in the vicinity of both police officers and paramedics.

Guldeman said he believes the officers were farther away from McDowell than the paramedics were.

"I think my officers feel they were relatively far enough away from the exposure," he said.

Martin said he is unsure if paramedics were wearing any personal protective equipment at the time, but as of Tuesday, they are now required to wear masks any time they come within six feet of a patient. He said that while the incident was "egregious and offensive to say the least," fire department personnel are frequently exposed to hazards and unless they show symptoms, they are not tested or sent home for quarantine.

"We're concerned for all our guys, every call they go on," he said. "If we were to quarantine after every exposure, we wouldn't have anyone working."

Guldeman said EMS took McDowell to Akron City Hospital. According to court records, an arrest warrant was issued for him on April 9, but was in custody on Monday. He entered no plea for the felony charge and pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor at his arraignment. Coates also ordered that McDowell wear an electronic alcohol monitoring device as a condition of his release, according to court records.

McDowell is scheduled for a felony status hearing before Judge Kim R. Hoover at 10:30 a.m. on April 22.

McDowell's attorney, Christopher VanDevere, declined to comment Tuesday, saying he had only just been assigned to represent McDowell.

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©2020 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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