For the first time we are hearing the story of Jake Gregoire, the Chula Vista, California firefighter who was handcuffed by a California Highway Patrol Officer Sergio Flores at a crash scene last month. The whole incident was caught on video.
According to KGTV-TV. Gregoire has now filed a civil rights violation claim against CHP and the State of California. He’s also telling his story publicly for the first time.
“I just remember it being very surreal,” said Jake Gregoire.
“I was right next to the patient that we were going to pick up off the ground, getting ready to load into the ambulance, when I was interrupted,” said Gregoire.
“I was told if you don’t get back into your fire engine and go back to your fire station, you will be arrested,” said Gregoire, “I was dumbfounded.”
While two other fire engines left the scene, Gregoire says he refused to leave because his rig was acting as a buffer, protecting the ambulance and first responders from traffic.
“I couldn’t live with myself for the rest of my life that someone could potentially be injured because I didn’t stand up for what I believe in,” said Gregoire.
Moments later, Gregoire says Flores cuffed him and put him in the back of a cruiser. Gregoire thought his 12-year career was over.
“It was the worst 30 minutes of my life,” he said. “I’m sitting in the back of this ambulance … thinking how am I going to tell my wife?”
Team 10 investigator Michael Chen asked Gregoire, “You’ve gotten a lot of media requests. You’ve said no. So why come forward now?”
“Just because I don’t think it was handled properly,” answered Gregoire.
In a letter to the CHP, (attorney Dan) Gilleon said his client will agree to settle the claim without any compensation if the CHP agrees to end a “longstanding problem” of its officers delaying or obstructing firefighters or emergency medical technicians at freeway crashes.
Officials “have tried, and are continuing to try, to hide what happened,” Gilleon wrote. “The coverup must stop.”
The CHP has declined to comment on the incident, which was caught on video by a TV news crew and shown on television and splashed on websites nationwide.