Prosecutors reduced the charges against a Florida paramedic who was fired earlier this year for dumping a terminally ill patient onto the floor during an argument.
Kenneth Hallenbeck was initially charged with felony abuse of the elderly or disabled after tossing 49-year-old James Slater off a stretcher because he would not get up, reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Slater said there were no beds available at the Rockledge, Florida, hospital, so he decided to stay on the gurney.
The 35-year-old Hallenbeck became angry at the hospice patient, who said the paramedic began screaming at him and the grabbed the gurney and flung him to the ground.
"The best evidence is when he refused to get off the backboard repeatedly," said Lt. Donna Seyferth, of Rockledge police, shortly after the incident in late February. "It sounded like the paramedic flipped the backboard to remove him."
The Florida State Attorney’s Office released surveillance video of the incident Friday and announced the charges against Hellenbeck had been dropped to a misdemeanor.
Prosecutors said Slater’s medical condition did not necessarily classify him as a disabled adult, so they downgraded the charge to culpable negligence.
They said the misdemeanor charge would ensure the case would be resolved quickly and would not subject Slater to “stress that could have aggravated his condition” if prosecutors had attempted to prove the felony charge.
However, Slater said he was not happy the charges had been downgraded, and he has hired an attorney and asked the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union to examine the case.
Hellenbeck was fired from his job as a Brevard County Fire and Rescue paramedic in March, after serving with the agency for 11 years.
He has a plea hearing scheduled for later this month.
Watch video from the incident posted online by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: