- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 12, 2005

A Fort Washington man was charged yesterday after police say he attacked a D.C. paramedic who was trying to help a seizure victim in Dupont Circle in Northwest.

The paramedic — Hunter Hughes — suffered a broken nose and bruises in the altercation, which occurred about 7 p.m. Wednesday in a park at Dupont Circle. Mr. Hunter, 26, and his partner had been called to the park to help a man who appeared to be homeless and was on the ground with his head under a park bench.

The man under the bench appeared to have suffered a seizure.

Mr. Hughes said yesterday he and his partner tried to get the man out from under the bench when another man approached from behind and told them, “You all need to get out of here.”

Mr. Hughes said he told the man, who has been identified as Johnny Bryant, that they were paramedics and that they were trying to treat a seizure victim. He said Mr. Bryant kept insisting that they leave.

Mr. Hughes said he stood up and turned to face Mr. Bryant, who then lunged at him, striking Mr. Hughes repeatedly in the head and face. Mr. Hughes’ partner and a firefighter pulled Mr. Bryant off Mr. Hughes, while another firefighter called police.

Police on Wednesday arrested Mr. Bryant, 34, , and yesterday charged him with two felony counts of assaulting a police officer — a statute which also covers firefighters and paramedics. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Mr. Bryant was arraigned in D.C. Superior Court yesterday and was released on his own recognizance.

The man who suffered the seizure refused to be taken to a hospital. He got up from the ground and walked away.

Mr. Hughes said he was treated for bumps and bruises to his face and a broken nose.

“We’re trying to take care of a sick person and this guy is just in the way,” Mr. Hughes said. “A message needs to be sent that we’re not going to tolerate this stuff. You can’t do that.”

Mr. Hughes, who has been a paramedic for 10 years and worked in the District for the past 18 months, said he has never been attacked on the job. He said the incident will not discourage him from doing his job in the future.

D.C. fire department spokesman Alan Etter said altercations are one of the job’s dangers that residents rarely consider.

“This is a very dangerous job and it is not just about running into burning buildings. Our firefighters and EMS workers deal with street elements all the time,” Mr. Etter said. “Sometimes we have police coverage and sometimes we don’t.”

In July 2002, an engine company responding to a couch fire in an alley in Southeast was ambushed and pelted with rocks. The windshield on the fire truck was chipped and one of the firefighters was hit in the helmet. No one was injured.

James B. Martin, the fire department’s assistant chief of operations, said incidents like the one that occurred Wednesday are more common than people think.

“We encounter these types of things more often than what people think, especially when people abuse drugs or a crime has been committed,” he said. “Thankfully, they don’t usually deteriorate into altercations.”

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