Los Angeles/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on June 13, 2024
Man Charged with Assault on Firefighters During Emergency Response in South Los AngelesSource: Google Street View

A surprising episode unfolded in South Los Angeles when a shirtless man assaulted firefighters from Engine 16 as they backed their truck up to respond to a call, CBS Los Angeles reports. The incident, which was captured by a passerby, occurred near Central Avenue and Nadeau Street, not far from the station, and caused a delay in response time to a traffic collision.

The suspect, later identified as 55-year-old Roland Leary, can be seen in video footage running into the street and jumping onto the engine; another firefighter had to resort to using what appeared to be a club to chase him away—nearby residents criticized the shirtless man for hindering the firefighters, who were attempting to perform their duties and help people involved in the traffic accident. According to the CBS Los Angeles coverage, paramedics checked on Leary before he was arrested by the LA County Sheriff's Department and has been charged with assault likely to produce great bodily injury on a peace officer, and battery on a firefighter engaged in the performance of their duties. He is slated to appear in court on June 25.

Further details from NBC Los Angeles reveal that during the attack, the man not only punched the windows of the engine but also assaulted a firefighter directly; Andrew Chaing, a firefighter/paramedic on the scene, said, "We were literally responding to a traffic collision and this guy just came out of nowhere, jumped in front of the engine and just started punching it." According to Chaing's interview, firefighters had encountered Leary previously, describing him as under the influence of narcotics and recalling that they had sent him to a psych hospital.

This wasn't an isolated difficulty for Engine 16's crew, previously people had jumped onto the engine during a street takeover a few months prior, firefighters claimed, this marks a continuous streak of challenges facing first responders in the area. While residents have voiced support for the firefighters, incidents like these underscore the unpredictable and hazardous conditions these emergency workers can sometimes face in the line of duty, especially in situations when every second can mean the difference between life and death.