Minneapolis EMTs barred from crime investigation now allowed to participate

Two of the four paramedics who responded to a shooting death by federal authorities were initially "prevented" from being interviewed, union leaders said

Alex Chhith
Star Tribune

MINNEAPOLIS — Paramedics who responded to the scene of Winston Smith's death have now all been interviewed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, according to a union representing HCMC's paramedics and emergency medical technicians.

Four paramedics responded to the scene in two separate ambulances on June 3, when Smith was fatally shot during an attempt by federal authorities to arrest him in a parking ramp. The BCA asked to meet with all of them.

Read more: 2 Minn. EMTs barred from shooting investigation interviews

However, management at first barred two of them from meeting with investigators, according to the union, the Hennepin County Association of Paramedics and EMTs (HCAPE).

"Management refused to take the two paramedics off an ambulance to participate in the BCA's requested interview," Sam Erickson, vice president of HCAPE, said earlier. Management told the union its employees were barred from meeting with the BCA without someone from the County Attorney's Office present, the labor official said.

No one from the County Attorney's Office was present at the interviews, according to a HCAPE news release. "We have no clear answer why the Hennepin County Attorney's Office decided to change course," it said.

The paramedics were likely "prevented" from being interviewed due to understaffing, according to the release.

"Hennepin EMS management has been struggling for years to appropriately and safely staff our street operations and dispatch center," it said. "HCAPE members have been pushed to the brink (and beyond) by chronic understaffing. We as health care providers have a sworn duty to the residents we serve."

A representative of HCMC did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday evening.

(c) 2021 StarTribune

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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