Let due process run its course

Published 10:04 am Thursday, June 9, 2016

In the wake of what transpired within a 10-to-15 minute time frame after a brutal knife attack bled the life from 29-year-old Teffiney Renee Williams of Aulander, accusations of improper response from Bertie County EMS are circulating faster than a tropical system spinning off the ‘Carolina coast.

As reported in this newspaper on May 31, Williams died at the hands of her alleged attacker, Thurman Wiggins, who reportedly stabbed the woman at his Aulander home on the Sunday before Memorial Day. Wiggins was arrested the same day and charged with murder.

However, the story does not end there, as we learned during the public comment period held as part of Monday’s Bertie Board of Commissioners meeting. There, at least two individuals complained about the way Bertie EMS handled the situation upon their arrival on the scene.

The complaints, one of which was lodged by a family member of the victim, ranged from the method in which the two responding EMT’s moved a bleeding Williams from the edge of the yard towards the ambulance, to how the pair of trained medics appeared to be too frightened to leave the safety of their vehicle when they first arrived at 512 West Main Street.

Based on Monday’s discussion between the complainants and county officials, all that’s really clear at this point is that the responding EMT’s did not know the complete details of what transpired prior to the call for help. It’s also clear that had they known this situation was a stabbing and the suspect was still at or near the scene of the crime, the EMT’s had every right, according to standard protocol, to park their vehicle a safe distance from the area in question and allow law enforcement to secure the scene prior to their entrance.

The questions posed Monday by the complainants are deserving of answers. However, it appears – based on no one raising their hand when a county official asked of those assembled in the audience who was on the scene at the time of the EMT’s arrival – the questions being posed are coming from individuals who were not there to witness what exactly took place.

It appears that those upset over the way the situation was handled are basing their assumptions over how such scenes are portrayed on made-for-TV dramas. While those one-hour shows are entertaining to watch, they are far from being precise on what actually takes place at a crime scene and the split-second decisions that have to be made.

What occurred in Aulander nearly two weeks ago was a real life situation. After learning the situation was more than a “woman bleeding” call and that a stabbing had occurred with the suspect still on the scene, an on-the-spot decision was made by the responding EMT’s to quickly pull the victim to the safety of their ambulance and then begin to administer medical aid while en route to the hospital.

The course of action they took was what they thought would apparently give the victim the best chance of survival. Unfortunately the victim died, but not by the hands or actions of these EMT’s.

Whether they were right or wrong in their actions in their attempt to break normal protocol in an attempt to save a life is left to Bertie County officials to decide. And that decision will take into consideration what the actual witnesses at the scene saw on that late afternoon, once they come forward and agree to speak with county officials.

The best course of action at this point is not point fingers of blame and let due process take its course.

– The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald