Man charged with attacking 2 FDNY firefighters during EMS call

Union leaders said the man unexpectedly attacked one of the firefighters from behind, causing injuries

John Annese
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — A Queens man assaulted two firefighters responding to a medical emergency at a housing development, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Clarence Smith, 37, attacked the firefighters as they were providing medical assistance to a person at the Queens Bridge North Houses on 10th St. in Long Island City Tuesday afternoon.

A man was charged with assaulting two firefighters who were assisting someone suffering a medical emergency in Queens on Tuesday.
A man was charged with assaulting two firefighters who were assisting someone suffering a medical emergency in Queens on Tuesday. (Photo/Rose Abuin, New York Daily News)

“Get out of the way!” Smith yelled at one of the firefighters — then grabbed her, repeatedly pushed her against a wall and took a swing at her, prosecutors said.

When a second firefighter intervened, Smith shoved him against a wall and spit in his face, prosecutors allege.

Sources familiar with the incident said the patient fell unconscious during a diabetic episode. Smith’s connection to the patient wasn’t clear Wednesday night.

Both firefighters were treated at a nearby hospital; Smith surrendered to cops at the 114th Precinct later in the day.

The first injured firefighter hasn’t returned to work since the attack, United Firefighters Association president Andrew Ansbro said.

“Her back was to him. She didn’t even know what was coming,” he said. “From what I was also told, he came out of nowhere.”

The firefighter is still getting tests done to see the extent of her injuries, Ansbro said.

Smith was charged with felony assault and harassment. Queens Criminal Court Judge Michelle Johnson ordered him released without bail at his Tuesday night arraignment.

Felony assault was not one of the charges affected by the state’s bail reform laws last year.

“On every call, firefighters and EMTs put themselves in danger to protect and treat others. Their safety is a priority to me and this Office,” Queens D.A. Melinda Katz said Wednesday.

Ansbro said attacks on first responders are getting more commonplace, pointing to an October incident in which an emotionally disturbed teen was accused of throwing rocks at an FDNY truck in the Bronx and menacing firefighters with a machete.

“All of these incidents have been totally unprovoked and show a total lack of respect for what we do,” he said. “It could be mental illness. It just goes to show you, it’s not just a burning building. Every time we go out the door we’re facing dangers.”

He also lamented that Smith was released without bail, asserting that “it just sends the message to criminals and people that behave badly that there are no consequences.”

Smith did not return a message seeking comment Tuesday.


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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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