A Chattanooga police officer who arrested a newlywed husband for running red lights to get his critically ill wife to a hospital emergency room has been suspended, officials said today.
Eric Wright, whose wife Aline is a left leg amputee, said Officer Jim Daves even tried to block him as he carried her into the ER of the Erlanger Medical Center.
Two days later, Daves arrested Eric Wright and charged him with traffic violations, disorderly conduct, reckless endangerment, evading arrest and assault on an officer, which is a felony. The officer claimed in his report that Wright has scraped his arm with a fingernail.
Eric Wright has been suspended from his job because of the arrest and had to post $7,500 bail. But his wife has recovered her stroke, which her husband feared could have cost her life.
Daves, however, is out of uniform, at least temporarily.
"At this time Officer Daves has been put on paid administrative leave. He has been rellieved of all of his police duties until the completion of the internal affairs investigation," Chattanooga Police spokeswoman Lt. Kim Noorbergen told ABC News.
Aline and Eric Wright had been married for four days last Wednesday when they became alarmed that Aline was having a medical crisis.
"I started feeling some left arm numbness and a facial droop," Aline Wright told ABC News. "It appeared to me that I was probably having a stroke."
Eric Wright, a medic at the hospital who has spent two tours in Iraq, put her in the car and rushed to the hospital, where they both work. During the dash to the hospital, Eric Wright told ABC News he paused at two red lights, but then went through them. After passing through the second red light, a police cruiser pulled up behind the couple's vehicle, following it with lights and sirens all the way to the hospital.
Eric Wright recalls the officer physically blocking his way as he carried Aline into the emergency room.
The husband told ABC News that his wife may have died if he had stopped for the officer. "Every minute is critical in a situation like that," he said.
According to Daves' written affidavit obtained by ABC News : The "defendant stopped [his car] in the ER entrance and jumped out and ran. Police made contact with Defendant at the passenger side of his vehicle and I grabbed the Defendant's arm and he pushed me away scraping my arm with his fingernail. Defendant yelled and said it was an emergency..."
"Defendant pushed through the crowd and carried a female back into the emergency room and place[d] her in a room with no permission of the hospital staff," the officer wrote.
Eric Wright has denied Daves' statements.
"I never had any [physical] contact with the officer at all," he said. And Wright said he did not enter a hospital room without permission. "In fact, I called the emergency room to alert them and let them know we would be arriving," he said.
The husband said said that Daves tried to come into the area where his wife was being treated. "Upon our arrival, it was crucial I be present," Eric Wright said. "I needed to make sure my wife was accurately relaying her symptoms and medical history."