Overdose Patient Who Assaulted Medics Now Sues Them

A Washington man who called 911 because he believed he was overdosing on marijuana butter is now suing South King Fire and Rescue and two firefighter-paramedics that he already pled guilty to assaulting.

The YCMTSU case began on June 6, 2015, when Patrick Thomas, 58, called 911 believing he was overdosing on marijuana butter. Thomas, a Seattle bus driver and bail bondsman, claims that the responding firefighters as well as police officers “failed to provide any care, compassion, humility or understanding.”

An altercation occurred that resulted in Thomas being charged with assaulting firefighter paramedics Greg Garka and David Michaels. Thomas pled guilty to one count of Fourth Degree Assault on January 22, 2016.

Thomas filed suit in King County Superior Court last June accusing Garka and Michaels along with City of Des Moines Police Officers R. Tschida and J. West with negligence, civil rights violations, and battery. The City of Des Moines and South King Fire and Rescue were also named in the suit. The suit was removed to US District Court for the Western District of Washington two weeks ago due to the federal civil rights violations.

Thomas is seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages, costs and attorneys fees.

Here is a copy of the complaint: Thomas v Des Moines

Here are some, but by no mean all, of the allegations:

  • On June 6, 2015, Mr. Patrick Thomas ingested marijuana butter for the first and only time. Mr. Thomas became overwhelmed and intoxicated shortly after ingesting the marijuana butter.
  • Having never ingested marijuana butter previously, and believing that the marijuana butter was laced with something stronger, Mr. Patrick called 911 for immediate medical attention. Mr. Thomas feared for his life believing if he did not get medical attention he would die.
  • The first to arrive at the residence located in Des Moines was the South King County Fire Rescue. At the time of their arrival, Mr. Thomas was lying on the floor. Mr. Thomas requested an ambulance as he was rendered immobile and unable to stand.
  • The responding officers asked Mr. Thomas to get on the couch. With tremendous and inconceivable effort, Mr. Thomas managed to get to the couch. Mr. Thomas was nearly unconscious.
  • Thomas recalls two police officers entering his home uninvited. He later learned the officers are Des Moines Police Officer R. Tschida and Des Moines Police Officer J. West. Mr. Thomas asked why the police were in his home when he called 911 for an ambulance only. None of the public servants responded to Mr. Thomas’ inquiry.
  • Thomas requested water. Mr. Thomas tongue was swelling. The officers were non responsive demanding his silence and expressing he did this to himself.
  • Thomas heard the officers laughing at him. Mr. Thomas heard the officers demeaning his credentials as a bail bond agent. In Mr. Thomas’ home and on his walls are all his licenses as a Private Investigator and Bail Bond Agent.
  • Thomas thought to record the whole interaction requesting Officer West to hand Mr. Thomas his phone, which was on the counter. Officer West refused the request which was made by Mr. Thomas a few times.
  • Finally, the ambulance arrived. The Emergency Medical Technecian (EMT) who arrived, instructed Mr. Thomas to stand up from the couch and walk to the ambulance.
  • Thomas was still incapacitated and incapable of walking to the ambulance from inside his house.
  • Thomas did not believe his legs could hold him. Mr. Thomas was afraid he would fall.
  • Regardless of Mr. Thomas expressed concerns, the EMT demanded Mr. Thomas get up and walk on his own to the ambulance. Mr. Thomas begged for help to the ambulance. The EMT refused stating that if Mr. Thomas did not walk to the ambulance on his own, the EMT was leaving. Mr. Thomas was flabbergasted, confused and scared now that the EMT would not help him either.
  • At the point that Mr. Thomas realized no one came to help him despite his call to 911 for immediate medical assistance, Mr. Thomas requested everyone leave his house. Mr.
  • Thomas was still in and out of consciousness and still laying on the couch.
  • Thomas believes the EMT left the house although the officers did not leave as requested. Rather, Officer Tschida started hitting Mr. Thomas aggressively and with great force on his chest. Officer Tschida kicked the back of the couch continuously yelling angrily at Mr. Thomas.
  • Officer Tschida demanded Mr. Thomas get up and walk. Officer Tschida asked Mr. Thomas if Mr. Thomas really wanted the ambulance. Mr. Thomas said yes. The EMT came back inside the house.
  • Despite Mr. Thomas’ prior assertions that he was incapable of walking to the ambulance, the EMT again demanded that Mr. Thomas stand up and walk to the ambulance.
  • Again, Mr. Thomas asked for assistance to comply with the demand. Again, the EMT repeated, if Mr. Thomas didn’t stand and walk to the ambulance unassisted, he was leaving and not returning. Because Mr. Thomas simply did not believe I could walk unassisted, Mr. Thomas told him and everyone else to leave my house. Mr. Thomas fell asleep once more.
  • Officer Tschida yelled extremely loud and woke Mr. Thomas. Officer Tschida stated, “Since you don’t want to walk to the ambulance, we are going to put you in a flap jacket and take you to detox.”
  • Although Mr. Thomas heard the threat, Mr. Thomas fell back to sleep.
  • Thomas woke to the police and firefighters rocking his heavy leather couch back and forth yelling at Mr. Thomas to wake and get up. Mr. Thomas was confused and now antagonized by the violent jostling of the couch and demand for him to get up.
  • Because Mr. Thomas asked everyone to leave, he did not understand the harassment to get up. Mr. Thomas began to fear the officers believing they were in his home threatening his life. There were several men around the couch screaming at him while rocking the couch. They jostled the couch with such velocity, they broke the couch. Mr. Thomas fell off the couch, feeling attacked.
  • Thomas recalls throwing a punch at the EMT and/or officer only after feeling attacked by the officers and firefighters and only after being thrown from the couch by the officer and firefighter’s force.
  • Thomas recalls being shot in the chest with a gun. Mr. Thomas learned that he was hit with a taser gun. Mr. Thomas was rendered incapitated forced to lie face down while in his living room.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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