PHILADELPHIA, PA. April, 27, 2015: Pennsylvania jury found medic, Michael Bernard McMahon, not guilty of all charges stemming from an altercation with a patient.
A jury in Philadelphia found a paramedic not guilty of all charges stemming from an altercation with a patient following a week-long trial. Michael Bernard McMahon, 38, was acquitted of all charges of aggravated assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person following a physical altercation with a female patient that prosecutors claimed led to a traumatic brain injury.
The former Malvern Fire Company paramedic was charged in March 2014, three months after responding to a call for Kathleen Benedict, 52, a patient with diabetes who was known by first responders as a frequent 911 caller who was sometimes combative.
The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for about five hours following the week-long trial in front of Judge Anthony Sarcione before returning with their verdict around 10 p.m. Friday.
Her mother August Benedict testified that she called 911 on Dec. 10, 2013 because her daughter would not take her insulin. McMahon responded around 3:30 p.m. and told police he stood in a doorway to keep Benedict from running out of the house. She lashed out at the East Whiteland EMT, then tried to hit him in the head. He grabbed her shirt with his right hand, and blocked her blow with his left elbow, striking her in the forehead.
Benedict did not appear to be hurt, but later complained that her head hurt. At 8 p.m. she collapsed and became unresponsive.
She was brought to Paoli Hospital where she underwent surgery. Neurosurgeon Dr. George Chovanes said her brain was bleeding in the same area where McMahon struck her. Benedict is under medical care and did not testify at the trial. Prosecutors argued that McMahon’s blow caused the neurological damage from which she still suffers.
McMahon’s defense attorneys argued the paramedic was acting in self-defense after Benedict attacked both him and an EMT from the East Whiteland Fire Company who was also at the scene. The defense, led by attorneys James Funt and Glenn Gilman of Philadelphia, also suggested that Benedict’s injuries were not apparent when the confrontation ended, and that it was not until several hours later that she became unresponsive. They contended that the jury did not have sufficient proof to determine that the blow McMahon delivered actually caused her injuries.
On Monday, Funt expressed satisfaction with the jury’s verdict exonerating his client, but remained bitter about the decision to arrest, charge, and prosecute McMahon.
“I think that the jury recognized that first responders have the most difficult of jobs,” he said. “But the DA, by criminalizing what was his appropriate behavior, has done more damage in its relationship with first responders than the office understands.”
He said that those he had spoken with in the emergency community feel their safety may be at risk, “now that they may be prosecuted for simply doing their job.”
McMahon’s attorney James Funt said he was satisfied with the jury’s verdict, but that McMahon shouldn’t have been arrested in the first place and it makes other responders fear prosecution for doing their jobs.