Glendale officials are recommending disciplinary action against some of the firefighters involved in a physical altercation during an Oct. 26 medical aid call, after a YouTube video surfaced showing them swearing at the patient.
“Two of the firefighters – Sean Alford and Daniel Padilla – did engage in conduct that violated the human resources department and fire department policies and procedures and can be characterized as major deficiencies in job performance,” the report said.
The other firefighter and fire engineer at that scene were exonerated by the report, released Feb. 13, which HR and an assistant city attorney authored, after the Glendale Police Department and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office also conducted investigations.
The report proposes that Alford and Padilla receive “punitive disciplinary action,” but does not identify the appropriate level of discipline. The authors also urge further training for all fire department employees and emergency medical responders.
The firefighters used several expletives during a struggle with 30-year-old James Murillo, in front of his then-home in the 8300 block of West Ocotillo Road, after they had strapped his legs and waist, but not his arms, to a gurney.
The incident escalated after Murillo, whose parents had called 911 after his seizure, punched Alford in the mouth. Padilla and Alford told investigators they tried to subdue the patient with punches. Alford said he was “f------ pissed” after getting hit.
Alford could also be heard on the video saying, “You’re f------ dead meat, b----. I’m going to have you for everything you have.”
The report rejected Alford’s claims of self-defense. It found that he described himself, more than once, taking retaliatory actions against the patient.
The authors found reason to believe that he “acted more out of anger than a justifiable fear for his life. His words and actions therefore suggest that Captain Alford’s use of force was excessive and unreasonable and a violation of city and department policy.”
Alford was hired by the city in 1998 and has been a captain in the fire department since 2007. The report says he has not been disciplined in the last five years.
Padilla received a similar review.
He used some profane language when the fight broke out, but “nothing in the video evidence or witness statements suggest that the language was intended to intimidate or threaten any person,” the report said.
The authors found that Padilla struck the patient five or six times, which caused him physical injury.
The report found Padilla and Alford “did not discuss or attempt to use any alternative methods to subdue the patient other than punching him. They did not employ the methods mandated by department protocols for restraining violent or excited patients.”
Padilla lacked a “rational basis,” according to the report, when he said he acted in that situation out of “fear for his life” and to “protect himself and his crew.”
He was hired by the city in 2007 and was serving as an acting fire captain when he was dispatched to assist Murillo. Like Alford, Padilla has not received any disciplinary actions in the last half decade.
The report related outcomes for three similar instances of excessive force involving Glendale police officers. One was dismissed from his department, another received an 80-hour suspension without pay, and a third was issued a written reprimand.