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Firefighter arrested at accident files claim against CHP

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CHULA VISTA — A Chula Vista firefighter arrested while trying to aid victims at a freeway accident has filed a legal claim against the California Highway Patrol.

Engineer Jacob Gregoire was handcuffed and placed in the rear seat of a CHP cruiser after he refused to move his fire truck, which was parked in the center divider of Interstate 805 on the night of Feb. 4. The truck was partially blocking the lane closest to the divider to protect ambulance crews working to aid two people injured when a Mustang hit a cement barrier and rolled over, according to Chula Vista Fire Department officials.

READ GREGOIRE’S CLAIM AGAINST THE CHP

Jacob Gregoire

Engineer Jacob Gregoire at news conference announcing his claim against the CHP (March 25, 2014)

Gregoire was later released, and no charges were filed.

“It was a very surreal odd situation,” said Gregoire of the incident. “It was really hard to sit in the back of that CHP car and be treated the way he did treat me.”

The claim against the CHP filed by Gregoire alleges that the arrest was illegal and obstructed Gregoire and other emergency responders from caring for the accident victims. It accuses the arresting CHP officer, Sergio Flores, of arrogance, bullying and ill will.

When Flores was ordered to release Gregoire, he said, “This is not over yet. You are not being arrested, but I am not done with you. You’re going to have to answer for your actions,” according to the claim.

“This is all about ego of the CHP officer. It has nothing to do with authority at the scene,” said Dan Gilleon, Gregoire’s attorney. “This is not an isolated incident. The same office has done this in the past and done this since, so this is not a problem they are trying to fix. They are trying to sweep this under the rug.”

Gilleon said the firefighter will drop the claim if the CHP agrees to fix the problems of delaying emergency crews along highways.

 

24 comments

    • Maria

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      Proposition 65 – mandates that all "Ethanol in Beverages" products be labeled with CANCER WARNINGS. Since no beer, wine or liquor sold in San Diego has a CANCER WARNING label,
      they are all illegal to sell and subject to Prop 65 Legal maneuvers to stop selling mislabeled alcohol products.

  • Alan

    You guys were a little harsh on that lawyer. I'm normally not a fan of lawyers but in this case he is completely right. Very antagonistic interview.

  • DavidM

    So the question arises, "what is the value of sitting in the back of a police car for a 1/2 hour?" A claim is a precursor to a lawsuit. Is someone really going to file a lawsuit over the 30 minutes of inconvenience where there is no lost pay, no injury, and the "stigma" is inflicted by the media's reporting of the story the "victim" won't let go away?
    Yeah, the fireman's feelings were hurt for a time, but the chances of "fixing" the attitude of the law enforcement personnel who think nothing of taking a first responder off the street at an accident scene are minimal to nonexistent.
    The real story is that this incident highlights the attitude of far too many law enforcement officers who feel nothing about trampling the rights of someone with the audacity to question their authority.

    • Cat

      Absolutely there was harm done. That officer was trying to hide under the impunity of his badge and BULLY the firefighter who was there to render aid and do his JOB. Only an idiot or an arrogant cop would find that to be a problem. Our policemen are given way too much power these days and not enough training on KEEPING the peace or knowing the parameters of their jobs. That's certainly NOT working together at an accident scent.

      • Grim1

        The officer is in charge of scene safety and concerned with the potential for more collisions occurring due to the unnecessary closure of traffic lanes by firemen with tunnel vision towards a single event. On scene authority rests with law enforcement. It is the fire engineer that needs more training in this fact.

        • sdhma

          The fireman first on scene of the incident would be the Incident Commander, in charge of the scene. The CHP officer should be taking direction from the Incident Commander, the fireman.

          • Mike

            sdhma, you are wrong. It is not a race to the scene to see who is the IC. The IC is determined by CA law, which vests that responsibility with the law enforcement agency with primary traffic enforcement responsibilities. Fire would be the IC only until the law enforcement agency with primary traffic investigative authority arrives.

      • DavidM

        I'm not saying there wasn't "harm done;" I'm saying it was minimal harm and the only reason for the claim is because either the Chula Vista Fire Department, this fire fighter, or the lawyer, want to keep it in the news.
        I'm also saying this is a good thing, because far too many law enforcement officers routinely violate someone's rights and until their attitude changes to one of public service instead of "my way or handcuffs" it will happen again. I just don't see it happening from this minor inconvenience type of claim.

    • SgtRena

      Actually law suits are also filed for injunctive relief–to make someone do, or not do some thing.

    • jason

      you are stuck on the cop and the fireman. the problem was the cop never took command of the scene, the cop hindered the emergency crews from rendering aid to the victims of the accident, and who the hell is going to hit a big ass firetruck with lights blaring.

  • jason

    I hope that chp officers house catches fire and the fire department can’t put it out cuz there’s no legal area out of the roadway to park to battle the fire. Also how do the chp and cops in general always park in red zones and handicap parking. I see it all the time. Can fire departments issue red zone tickets? If so I see lots of pigs getting tickets in the future

  • HelpSaveLives

    What is more important? people sitting in traffic for a few extra hours or someone's life being saved by the firefighters? If you don't know the answer then you need serious help!

  • denise

    It was just luck that no one was seriously injured or worse. What about next time this happens…they might not be so lucky. Hats off to the fireman who isn’t letting the incident go. CHP needs to change its ways…

  • mission valley film

    I'd love nothing more than the cop to be suspended for a month, but DavidM is right. I have lawyer friends, and they always say when you ask about whether you can sue somebody, is "How were you harmed?" Everyone thinks you sue when you were wronged, and make millions. Yet what happens when a judge says "I agree. The cop was a jerk. You shouldn't have been cuffed and placed in the back of a cop car, but…how much is that worth? A thousand dollars? Certainly no more than that." At which point, you wonder what was accomplished.

    • Paul

      How was he harmed ? He was detained & held against his will for no lawful reason. His Constitutional rights, which were created for this very reason, were ignored. This kind a action by law enforcement is happening to frequently and the only way to make police management take notice & institute change is getting them into court and sue them

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