JOHNSON COUNTY, Indiana — A Columbus man who works as an emergency medical technician in Edinburgh was charged Friday in Johnson County for his contact with a restrained patient in an ambulance in late December.
Jeramy Goodnight, 42, faces official misconduct and misdemeanor battery charges for allegedly grabbing the handcuffed man's head and pushing his thumbs down on the man's eyelids on Dec. 26, 2021.
On Friday, Goodnight was formally charged in Johnson County with battery in the performance of his official duties.
The incident stemmed from a single-car crash investigated by Johnson County Sheriff’s deputies where the driver, identified in court documents as Logan Graym Retz, suffered some physical injuries and was believed to be intoxicated. Because of the physical injuries, medics, including Goodnight and Goodnight's wife, Brittany Goodnight, a part-time EMT on duty that night, responded to examine the driver.
According to court documents provided by the Johnson County Prosecutor, Retz became increasingly belligerent in the ambulance, hitting his head and bleeding. He was restrained with an oxygen mask to prevent him from potentially spitting on anyone. When he continued to be belligerent to Brittany Goodnight inside the ambulance, Jeramy Goodnight allegedly took his hands, placed them over the head of Retz and pressed down on his eyelids with his thumbs. Deputies in the ambulance said this caused Retz to scream out in pain. He did not suffer any serious injury, according the sheriff.
Two sheriff’s deputies inside the ambulance during the incident reported it to a supervisor, which led to an investigation and the charges against Goodnight.
Body camera video of the incident is part of the evidence in the case.
"While it is never pleasant to have to investigate a fellow first responder," said Sheriff Duane Burgess, "it is their obligation to do so fairly and impartially." Burgess praised his deputies for their immediate report.
Prosecutor Joe Villanueva said, “Police and fire personnel routinely deal with intoxicated or belligerent people. This individual was handcuffed and not a physical threat to the safety of anyone inside that ambulance. Part of doing this kind of job is having a thick skin and letting comments slide, and that’s exactly what should have happened here."
Court documents also show that Jeramy Goodnight said he "put pressure on both sides of the patient's orbital bones (then pointed to just outside his eyes)."
Retz told a detective after the incident that it felt like someone was grabbing his jaw and his neck.
Two other firefighters told investigators they didn't see Goodnight push his fingers into Retz's eyes and Retz did not want to cooperate with the investigation.
Burgess said the town of Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Fire Department have been "very transparent and cooperative during this investigation."
No court date has been set for Goodnight.